Ask Brian: How can I nudge my daughter towards a Stem career?
She has an aptitude for science and maths but she sees the area as being just for geeks
There are lots of free events such as Science Week, above, or coding clubs such as Coder Dojo, where students can try things out for themselves. Photograph: James Connolly
QUESTION: My 15-year-old daughter has a strong interest in and aptitude for science and maths. She is in transition year and will be choosing subjects for Leaving Cert. I’m keen for her to get a better idea about what kinds of careers relate to science and maths, but don’t know where to start. I think she sees this area as only for geeks and just working in a lab. How can I help her?
ANSWER: There are great career opportunities for students who excel at science, technology, engineering, and maths (Stem) subjects. These diverse sectors are thriving in Ireland and include people of all kinds of backgrounds and capabilities working in many different roles, and not just in a lab.
I presume your daughter will be taking interest and aptitude tests during transition year, which should confirm her strengths in this area. If she has access at school to a high-quality test such as that offered by Cambridge occupational analysts (coa.co.uk), she will get an outline of the Stem career areas in her personalised report. This will provide a solid basis for her Leaving Cert choices.
She can also explore the range of career areas in Ireland on careersportal.ie. This site has high-quality video of people working in scientific and mathematical areas, outlining their work and how to progress from the Leaving Cert through college to these jobs. Introducing students to real people working in the areas is the best way to challenge any stereotypes students may have.
Smart Futures, an initiative managed by Science Foundation Ireland in partnership with Engineers Ireland, also offers Stem careers information (smartfutures.ie) and free Stem career talks to secondary schools across the country, as well as parent and teacher resources and videos. The website includes a wide range of career pathways fully mapped out, with 40 more being added over the coming month.
I encourage you, as a concerned parent, to get involved in the process yourself. There are lots of free events such as Science Week or coding clubs such as Coder Dojo, where they can try things out for themselves, meet other students with similar interests and meet real people working in science and technology.
Right now there is a shortage of Stem graduates, particularly in technology . For students with aptitudes in this area, Stem careers offer fulfilling, well-paid roles that are making a real difference to our society. From 2004 to 2014, overall employment in ICT companies grew by more than 30 per cent, whereas overall employment in the Irish economy grew by only 1 per cent. Salaries in these companies are 29 per cent above the national average.
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