New research shows students shunning STEM even though they want to work in relevant industries
Many young people are turning their backs on the relevant qualifications that will equip them for the jobs of the future. New research from Your Life found a significant number are keen to pursue a career which requires STEM qualifications, with five of the top desired careers being STEM based. Nearly a third (30%) of young people, aged 11-18, are interested in undertaking a career in gaming and nearly a fifth (19%) in IT. Yet, despite this, only a third (33%) are planning to study Maths and Science at A Level, the best gateways to these careers.
The research also makes clear that STEM’s image problems remain. Nearly half of young people (49%) who are not planning to study Maths or Science say it’s because they don’t enjoy it. One in five of all young people think STEM industries are male-dominated (rising to one in three, 31% in young women) and 15% think that they are boring. Despite the rising number of jobs available in the sector, over two thirds (67%) of young people don’t feel these subjects are relevant to many careers. Meanwhile less than half the number of girls (20%) are planning to study Physics compared to boys (41%).
The research suggest s that this gap in knowledge could be related to a lack of the relationship between relevant employers and schools. Over half of young people (51%) have never interacted with a STEM employer or further education provider. The research came as Your Life hosted a new event for 420 pupils at the Lea Valley Velodrome, where students speed-networked with tech employers of the future. The event was part of London Tech Week.
Your Life is calling on STEM, new tech and digitally savvy businesses to open their doors to teachers. The government backed , private-sector funded organisation is calling for more teachers to spend time in businesses as part of their continuing professional development. This knowledge of the new era world of work will in turn help teachers provide better information to their pupils on the importance of STEM qualifications to securing the careers they are most interested in – and more importantly – where all the jobs are.
Your Life seeks to boost the numbers studying Maths and Physics by 50% by inspiring the informing young people about the world of work.
Edwina Dunn, Your Life Campaign Chair and Tesco Clubcard founder, said: “These findings show an alarmingly low level awareness of the importance of STEM subjects to the jobs of the future among today’s school children. It is also worrying that nearly a quarter (22%) are only taking single science subjects at GCSE. This limits choices in both future study and careers. Our research shows quite clearly that young people have not had experience of new era employers to allow them to make informed decisions about their future. One fundamental way to change this is to invest teachers with a better understanding of jobs of the future .”
“This is why we are calling on STEM employers to open their doors to teachers as part of their continuing professional development. Collaboration like this is the only way we can achieve lasting change for young people and ensure we close the persistent STEM skills gap that hampers business growth and our economy today .”