A response to the skills shortage in STEM

This morning I’ve read an article by Celsian Education on the SRG website regarding why teachers and the science industry need to work together to solve the UK STEM skills shortage.

Vicky Black 2017 Gold Medal winner with lead judge Sue Carney

It’s a great post which highlights the fact new reports come out every week talking about the skill shortage in the UK and how everybody knows something has to be done to fill the 43% of STEM roles that are hard to fill due to the skills shortage (UK Commission for Employment and Skills Research).

This article discusses different ways that this shortfall can be overcome discussing the syllabus teachers and industry which in my humble view is where we are going wrong as well as going right.

What is STEM

STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics but what really are they?

Well they are skills used in many different industries, across many different walks of life, and while they might not be the media stars of the present earning salaries in excess of millions of pounds they are the lifeblood of our country, our economy, and our human progress.

Without STEM we wouldn’t have bridges, we wouldn’t have pharmaceuticals, we wouldn’t have computers, and we wouldn’t have the ability to progress as both humans and as a leading nation in this world.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics work together from the foods we eat, to the vehicles we ride in, to the roads we drive on, to the weapons we protect ourselves with, through to the clothes that we wear, so why is there a skills shortage?

The article which I will link to the bottom of this blog post has one conclusion really and that is STEM organisations and schools to foster a close, consistent bonds, which will shape and develop the talent for the future and that is something we at Complete Forensics – Inspiring Science agree with.

What is a fun way to get involved, how can we make STEM exciting for young people to not only inspire them now but to continue to inspire them later in life?

I’m sure many people with much more experience than myself can answer these questions better than I can but one of the biggest inspirations I have seen is the use of competitions within education.

We have been running the WorldSkills UK forensic science competition since 2013. Over 250 young people from across our four nations have taken part in heats (national qualifiers) which each year has led to finalists at the Skills Show which has now been rebranded as WorldSkills UK Live.

The forensics science competition brings together industry and education organisations and creates lasting bonds. Young people who have taken part in the finals have gone on to become some of this country’s most exciting researchers and shining lights within industry.

The competition tests not only specific STEM skills but also employability, personal and life skills. Over two days in front of 70,000 people the finalists compete to become the UK champion and this accolade will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

So, in response to the article titled “Why teachers and the science industry need to work together to solve the UK STEM skills shortage”, I would like to say I agree fully with the comments but would add that competition within classes, within schools, within LEP areas, and regionally, can help improve the learning outcomes of the next generations. Competitions can raise standards but also help foster the links between education and industry. It can be seen quite clearly within the results from the WorldSkills UK forensic science competitions of the past that those organisations willing to use industry to backup their teaching have greatly improved the chances of success.

So, I invite you to challenge yourself as a teacher, as a leader, as an inspirer, to think outside the box and get involved in WorldSkills UK competitions. There are many different types in many different skills, and opportunities are available for international competition as well. If you want to know what it’s all about head on over to www.worldskillsuk.org and book your free place for the U.K.’s largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event at the NEC between the 15th and 17th of November 2018.

If you are a student, an apprentice or have just started in industry you are eligible to take part in WorldSkills UK competitions. Some have age limits others do not so please check with the competition organising partner who will be able to advise you on the many different ways you can get involved.

If you want to know more about jobs careers and opportunities in STEM don’t hesitate to get in touch, we are more than happy to help you identify different routes through these exciting careers.

Lastly I’d like to thank SRG and their website for the thought-provoking post by Celsian Education which you can find at https://www.srg.co.uk/blog/teachers-and-the-science-industry

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