We recently held a STEM Careers session where Year 6 pupils from New Inn Primary School in Pontypool heard all about the jobs that are available in the STEM sectors and what career path they can take to get these roles. The session was followed by an engaging Q&A session, and here’s what we learnt:
- Will STEM jobs change over time? What does the future look like for careers in STEM?
Yes! STEM jobs are some of the most fast changing and evolving jobs, and this is because they are heavily linked to technology. Technology changes very quickly – imagine how mobile phones have changed since you started school, or ask an adult what computers were like when they were at school, you will see they have changed in lots of different ways.
Improving technology also means that the cost of technology has come down a lot, so computers and other machines have become cheaper to make, and so accessible to more people. Especially those in developing countries.
STEM jobs need to change and evolve along with improved technology; people need to know how to use new equipment, new jobs are created in new technology fields (think about green energy), and some old jobs may disappear.
The future of careers in STEM is bright, there will always be jobs in STEM and there will always be a demand for people with STEM skills and knowledge, what we don’t know is what those jobs will look like.
Can you imagine what you might be doing as a job in 20 years time? Do you think computers will look the same? You be working on something that hasn’t even been invented yet?
Here are some eye-opening statistics handpicked from the most reliable sources:
- Globally, there are about 1.35 million tech startups around the world.
- The number of smart devices collecting, analyzing, and sharing data should hit 50 billion by 2030.
- The global internet penetration rate in 2022 is around 63%.
- The computing and processing capacity of computers hits double figures every 18 months.
- The world will produce 463 exabytes of data by 2025.
- By 2030, 500 billion devices will be connected to the internet.
- 5 billion people use the internet.
Source: How Fast Is Technology Advancing in 2023? (techjury.net)
To find out more about the advances in technology, take a look at these articles: Technological Change – Our World in Data, How Fast Is Technology Advancing in 2023? (techjury.net)
2. Why is STEM important in society? What would society be like without STEM industries?
Can you imagine the world without the wheel? Without the computer? Without x-rays? Without electricity? This would be a world without STEM.
Anything we use to make our lives a little easier, using a washing machine, taking a shower, taking medication, driving to school, these are all things that have been developed by people in STEM and in STEM jobs.
Remember STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Why are these things important to society? Here are just a few reasons:
Science – Scientists help cure diseases and develop vaccines, they improve the water that we drink and the air that we breath.
Technology – Technologist design computers and mobile phones, make sure our Satnav works, help us to dear for information online and have taken us to the Moon.
Engineering – Engineers build better and faster cars, design solar panels and wind turbines to generate green electricity, build greener and better houses, roads and bridges.
Maths – Mathematicians solve big problems, look at data to help predict changes in the weather, or global money markets and increase our mathematical understanding of the world.
If you want to read more about this, take a look at this article: What would the world look like without the wheel and other everyday objects? – BBC Bitesize
Teachers, here are some resources that discuss this topic: A world without STEM
3. Why is it important to educate women about STEM jobs?
As you experienced when we did the ‘Draw a Scientist’ activity, we all have a stereotypical image of someone who works in STEM. And as we discussed, we know that needs to be challenged.
Because of how society has viewed women in the past, and how STEM jobs have traditionally been thought of as male-only, or more suited to men (women were not allowed to receive a Degree until the late 1800’s). The first women to attend university were those studying medicine in Edinburgh in 1869, but they were not awarded degrees until 2019 (read more here). In 1877, a law was passed to allow women to study and receive degrees, and the first university to award degrees to women was The University of London in 1878. Compare this with men studying at Oxford University since 1096!
We are all aware that today, women and men are equal in their ability to work in STEM careers, but there are still strong traditions, stereotypes and prejudices in the field that can make it harder for women to be accepted in a STEM environment.
Everyone, no mater their gender, can thrive and succeed in a STEM career, and promoting these opportunities specifically to women and girls is one way to ensure more women enter the world of STEM. Other ways to inspire women and girls to break the stereotypes are providing more female STEM role models to young people, giving girls access to more STEM activities and subjects when they are in school, and educating men and boys – well everyone – that STEM is for everyone, of any gender!
Think about the things that might stop you working in STEM. Can you come up with ways to remove these barriers?
4. What are the most popular STEM jobs?
It is hard to say what the most popular STEM jobs are, as everyone will have their own personal preference, but we can look at the most common jobs in STEM in Wales and the UK, so that you know what jobs are available in the different STEM fields.
So maybe the question should be – What jobs are available in STEM? Or Which STEM jobs pay the most?
According to Business Wales, in 2022 Wales needed more…
Geneticists, Therapists, Chemists, Engineers, Nurses, Skilled Technicians, Textile Technologists, Marine Biologists, Doctors, Accountants, Skilled Construction Trades, Designers, STEM Teachers, Environmental Scientists, Computer programmers.
Across the UK, the STEM degrees with the most jobs available in 2018 were:
Source: Top 10 Highest Paying STEM Degrees in the UK – Study International
The highest demand was for people with Computer Science degrees, there were over 4000 jobs available, with jobs in Engineering coming a close second with almost 3000 jobs available.
Would this information help you to decide what STEM subjects you study at university?
We could also look at what STEM jobs pay the most:
Source: Top 10 Highest Paying STEM Degrees in the UK – Study International
What would influence you more in your choice of career? The job opportunities, the pay or something else?
5. Who are some famous people who have jobs in STEM?
There are many celebrities who have STEM degrees, such as Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) who has a Master’s degree in Engineering, Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe from Friends) who has a degree in Biology and Brian May (guitarist from the band Queen) who has a PhD in Astrophysics. If I say the names Albert Einstein or Marie Curie, you could probably tell me why they are famous, but it’s also important to know about famous scientists who are working today, here are a few names you should know:
Tim Berners-Lee (Born in London, 1955) – developed the World Wide Web, HTTP protocol and HTML. Thanks to him, we have access to the world wide web and the web pages we all use today!
Professor Julie Williams (Born in Methyr Tydfil, 1957) – former Chief Scientific Advisor for Wales, Professor of Neuropsychological Genetics at Cardiff University. Julie is one of the world’s leading contributors to Alzheimer’s research.
Larry Page (Born in USA, 1973) and Sergey Brin (Born in Russia , in 1973) – Founders of Google, business men, Computer Scientists and internet entrepreneurs. Do you ‘Google’ things to find out more? I know I do.
Lyn Evans (Born in Aberdare, Wales, 1945) – Project leader for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The LHC is the worlds largest particle accelerator and is used to discover new particles (such as the Higgs Boson) and further their knowledge of particle physics.
Dr Emma Hayhurst (read more here) – Emma and colleagues at the University of South Wales developed a new rapid diagnostic test to detect whether people are actively infected with Covid-19. They have also created a portable device to go with the test which can give accurate results in as little as 20 minutes, preventing the need for samples to be taken to a laboratory.
Teacher Ms Rees, said, “The session was excellent, really engaging, and the pupils loved it. I even learnt something new!”
Technocamps’ USW Coordinator, Laura Roberts said, “This STEM careers session aims to get learners thinking about their possible future careers in STEM by opening their eyes to the vast array of STEM degrees and jobs available, as well as introducing them to real STEM role models working in Wales. We hope that the interactive nature of the session breaks the norm of dry careers talks and inspires them to do some of their own research into areas of STEM that interests them.”