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Research highlights a need for businesses to support careers in STEM

Published: Sep 8, 2017 4 min read

STEM learning

Research highlights a need for businesses to support careers in STEM

A recent survey has highlighted the importance for businesses to do more to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers in schools.

The survey, carried out by Atomik Research for Centrica, the owner of British Gas, involved 1,401 secondary teachers and 1,063 pupils aged 14 to 18.

Key findings:

  • 29% of the male teachers believe STEM careers are more for boys than girls with 16% of female teachers feeling the same
  • almost a third of male secondary school teachers think STEM careers are more for boys than girls
  • 29% of female teachers say they are "not at all confident" in their understanding of STEM careers, compared to 15% of male teachers
  • among pupils, 27% of girls say STEM careers are not for them, compared to just 14% of boys
  • 44% of pupils could not think of any female role models in STEM

The survey identified that 61% of pupils say teachers are influential in helping them decide their next steps after school, which is great news! However, 30% of teachers do not feel they have adequate information about all the options available to pupils with almost a quarter of teachers lacking confidence in their understanding of STEM careers.

The vast majority of teachers would like businesses to play a greater role in giving pupils information about STEM careers with 69% of teachers saying they would like more information, training and guidance from businesses about STEM careers.

Catherine O’Kelly, industry development director at British Gas, said:

“There’s a clear role and need for business to provide more support so that both teachers and students have a better understanding of the exciting options that are available through STEM careers.”

So, how can we work together to help change these statistics?

The STEM Insight programme gives businesses the opportunity to showcase what they do by offering a STEM Insight placement to teachers. Teachers play a vital role in helping young people find the right career path.

By providing immersive experiences, businesses are supporting teachers to better understand the diverse range of STEM careers available to young people and helping to inspire the future talent pipeline.

Mark Wakefield, IBM placement host, said:

“IBM is proud to have supported the STEM Insight programme from its inception. We see tremendous benefit from teachers spending a fortnight with us, experiencing a modern, high-tech environment. The impact for most is truly transformational, and inspires us to do more.

Work experience undoubtedly benefits the teachers and ultimately their students, but we also benefit: from seeing our world reflected back to us through their lens and by having a better understanding of the challenges that they face in bringing their subject to life. This helps us to ensure that our STEM education initiatives are appropriately tuned to meet their needs.”

Participants of the programme have already benefitted immensely from being part of STEM Insight.

Marie Jobson, Careers Lead at Churchill Community College, explains how the scheme has impacted on her and her students.

“Through the STEM Insight scheme, I embarked on a fantastic programme of daily visits to five local STEM-based employers. The networking opportunities were priceless – since the placement, relationships with these employers have hugely strengthened our careers education programme.

Following the placement, I’ve been able to develop a robust plan to offer our year 10 and 12 students a meaningful experience at work. I now know that until you step through the doors of a company you can’t really understand what you are actually preparing young people for.”

Be part of the STEM Insight programme 

If your business would like to join other UK leading organisations and universities already working with STEM Insight, please download the pledge form here, we just need a small amount of information to set the wheels in motion! 

Alternatively, if you are a teacher and would like to get involved as a participant, you can find out more here.

We look forward to working with you to help open up the world of STEM careers for future generations.

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