STEM qualifications ‘critical to the development of the economy’
Education Minister John O’Dowd has outlined to the Assembly the importance of STEM subjects within the school curriculum.
Speaking during a debate on the issue the Minister said: “I absolutely recognise the importance to our economy and society of having young people familiar with and qualified in STEM subjects.
“My Department is continuing to prioritise delivery of the STEM strategy. It is crucial that our education system continues to work in the best interests of our young people and that includes enabling them to take their place in the world of work, as employees and one day employers.
“Access to a broad and balanced curriculum is essential and that is what our statutory curriculum does, supported by the Entitlement Framework. But we need make no apology for giving special encouragement and support to the take-up of subjects which are economically relevant. I would encourage every young person who is considering a STEM career to look beyond the traditional boundaries of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science. Parents pay a vital role in encouraging their children to look beyond these well-worn pathways. Look for an exciting and rewarding career in engineering, or in digital technologies – two examples of vibrant sectors which will deliver much needed local talent to support and improve our economy.”
Outlining how the Department promotes STEM within schools the Minister said: “The Department’s front-line STEM delivery partner delivers programmes to more than 57,000 primary and post-primary pupils every year. The STEM module has been operating for some time and is unique on these islands. It is a mobile laboratory and workshop which provides an interactive workspace with interchangeable teaching resources to inspire young people through practical engagement using latest technologies. I am pleased that the numbers of our pupils sitting STEM subjects at exams is continuing to rise.”
In conclusion the Minister said: “STEM has the power to inspire young people. Every child from primary level onwards has the opportunity to be inspired to develop an interest in STEM. The challenge for my Department, teachers, parents and business is to ensure that more young people than ever develop this interest and pursue and excel at STEM subjects.”