How studying STEM subjects can open up a world of opportunities
If you asked me 25 or 15 years ago, or even today, what “career” I wanted to have I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But having chosen to study STEM subjects, I have never been short of options.
I have always found interesting and challenging jobs - I have worked in a pharmaceutical research and development department, been responsible for quality control at a herbicide manufacturing plant and led a UK-wide education programme while employed by the National Space Centre.
STEM subjects and associated skills, such as teamwork, organisation and communication skills, are valuable to companies across the country. At STEM Learning, we are proud to champion and enhance these skills through our STEM Ambassadors programme.
STEM Ambassadors are individuals who volunteer their time to talk about their experiences in the world of work and promote the sectors and companies out there providing STEM employment. Not only does this have a positive impact on the young people they are talking to, it can be invaluable for the STEM Ambassador, helping them to improve their own skills and confidence.
"89% of teachers reported that their students’ awareness of the importance of STEM had increased as a result of working with STEM Ambassadors."
The best way to illustrate some of our STEM Ambassador volunteers is to describe some of the jobs they do; Rolls-Royce employs and trains a large number of engineers. One department I only recently found out they have is their own in-house legal department – engineers who have trained as patent attorneys and are responsible for protecting the technology they are inventing and developing.
Other STEM Ambassadors work for chemical feedstock companies who provide active ingredients for shampoos, washing powders, and body lotions – without which the household brands we know wouldn’t have products to sell.
How do STEM Ambassadors inspire the next generation?
STEM Ambassadors can take part in a variety of activities in school, they can support a STEM Club, speak at an assembly, provide a world of work context for teaching STEM subjects, run STEM activities, give subject talks or even mentor students. With over 30,000 volunteers spread throughout the UK, the reach and impact of STEM Ambassadors are huge.
Most importantly, STEM Ambassadors are aspirational role models – there are some amazing jobs in STEM sectors in the UK, the more we talk about them and raise awareness that they exist the better.
A large number of jobs we have today didn’t exist even ten years ago, so young people starting secondary school now will more than likely enter the workforce doing a job that doesn’t exist today. So even if you don’t have a chosen “career” right now – that’s okay. STEM subjects can make you futureproof.