McGuinness Praises Abbvie ‘Back to School for STEM’ Initiative

Mairead McGuinness166 views

Focusing on science, technology, maths and engineering for young people means not only diverse and rewarding careers but is essential to meet the needs of an ever changing world where technology and analytical skills are becoming ever more important, Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament said today (Monday).

Speaking at the AbbVie, Co. Sligo ‘Back To School for STEM’ event to highlight  the diversity of careers and opportunities available to students,  the MEP said to meet the demands of today and tomorrow we need young people to study Science, Technology, Engineering and  Maths (STEM) subjects at Leaving Certificate level.

“But in order for this to happen, we need earlier engagement with science, including at primary level,” she said. “And we need to ensure that parents are aware of the opportunities that exist.

“Parents are the biggest influencers of children’s career choices and there are excellent employment opportunities, including higher entry-level starting salaries and quality job offers, for those graduating with STEM qualifications from university,” she said.

The percentage of students taking on higher maths for Leaving Certificate has increased from 16pc in 2011 to 28pc in 2016. Biology is by far the most popular science subject at Leaving Certificate level with five times more students taking it compared with physics and four times more than chemistry.

“This Abbvie initiative will see role models from the company go to schools and talk about their work and open up the world of STEM related opportunities for school children.

“This is a practical and very effective way to make STEM more accessible to students and I commend Abbvie for the initiative,” she said.

Ms McGuinness said Ireland aims to be a European leader in STEM education by 2026, driven by the Government’s STEM Education Policy 2017-2026 and Implementation Plan 2017-2019.

She said fewer than 25pc of approximately 120,000 people working in jobs requiring STEM skills are women, according to the Central Statistics Office.

“There is a challenge to get more girls to take STEM subjects, to continue their study at university level and to take up rewarding opportunities in the many companies that require these skills.

“Addressing this is very much part of the Government plan with a target of increasing female students taking on STEM subjects for their leaving certificate by 40pc,” Ms McGuinness said.

And she said some 50,000 people are employed in the life sciences sector in Ireland.

“The MedTech sector alone in Ireland currently employs 25,000 and Ireland is home to 24 of the top 25 biotech and pharma companies.

“Science and maths are so important to help us understand the world around us – not to mention the exciting and valuable careers that these paths offer,” she said.

The EU supports science and innovation through the Horizon 2020 Programme aiming to ensure that Europe is at the forefront of scientific endeavour now and in the future.

Here the Government’s STEM Strategy aims to:

  • Increase by 20pc the number of leaving certificate students taking Chemistry, Physics, Technology and Engineering subjects.
  • Increase by 40pc the number of females taking STEM subjects for Leaving Certificate
  • Introduce a new primary maths curriculum, which will include creative and computational thinking and coding
  • Introduce new Junior Cycle Mathematics and Technology curricula
  • Ensure that all schools, learners and parents have access to high quality information on the diversity of STEM careers
  • Ensure that all schools, learners and parents have access to high quality information on the diversity of STEM careers
  • Build robust and sustainable partnerships between schools, business and industry, public sector bodies, research organisations, further and higher-level institutions and the Arts.