By 2023 science, research, engineering and technology jobs are expected to make up 7.8% of all jobs in the UK and occupy 2.5m roles – if your child enjoys their science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) lessons at school then encourage them to stick with it. Perhaps they even already know they want to pursue a career in STEM? Read on to find out how you can help them make the right choices whilst still at school.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics professionals work in a variety of roles and industries that affect our day to day activities. STEM is continuously expanding into every aspect of our lives such as health, business, social media and shopping. These careers are important as they contribute to the stability, security and growth of the nation that we’re building for our futures.
Here’s just some of the roles STEM covers and you can see they are very varied:
Produces and improves food crops, controls pests and manages weeds. Their focus is to increase the quality and quantity of food produced across the nation – you’ll find them working in the fields, on farms or in labs helping us to have tasty, quality, fresh food.
Is your child passionate about the environment? They work to enhance, protect and manage local environments from forests and coastal areas through to rivers and mountains.
Helps people make health conscious and diet decisions. Also diagnoses and treats diet and nutrition-related problems with the aim to prevent future problems.
- Forensic Scientist
Analyses evidence from crime scenes and is a member of the team that investigates crime – think Sherlock or CSI.
Does your child love trying to predict the weather for your holidays? In this career, they’ll do this daily and study the causes of conditions after collecting information from the atmosphere, land and sea.
Diagnoses illnesses and disorders shown in X-Rays, MRIs and ultrasounds and other medical scanning techniques. They also suggest treatment options and further testing if needed.
There are many ways to get into STEM from courses and degrees to apprenticeships and starting early can only be an advantage.
During GCSEs or Standard Grades, you could opt to study:
- ‘Triple Science’ Biology, Chemistry and Physics
- Business Studies
For academic subjects such as A Levels or Highers, you could opt to study:
- Additional Science
- Further Maths
- ICT/Computer Science
Related subjects include:
- Environmental Studies
- English Language
Skills you need
If your child is passionate about entering a role in STEM, here are just some of the skills that will be useful in the future and they can work on developing.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Mathematical and IT skills
- Data analysis
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Detail oriented
Work experience is a good way for your child to apply knowledge and build skills for the industry they want to enter, which can be in the form of volunteering or shadowing, internships or IT-related work placements.
Alternatively, during university, depending on the course, your child may have the option of a year in industry (also known as a four-year sandwich course) where they can develop skills in a real work placement. Extracurricular activities that give them the opportunity to develop problem solving, maths and IT skills are also useful to include on job applications.
Although many women are already in this type of career, there’s still more work to do to attract women into the science industry as whole. The UK is trailing behind Europe in terms of female representation - currently making up just 16% of the workforce.
Many companies, including EDF Energy, are committed to helping address the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). We run a number of STEM initiatives including the Pretty Curious programme which sets out to challenge what girls’ think they know about STEM. There are some amazing careers that use science and it’s our job to help inspire girls to look differently at STEM using strong female role models and creative digital and hands-on experiences.
- You could find a role model in a friend or colleague that can encourage them through their own experiences.
- There are many free exhibitions and events that bring science to life outside of the classroom, for example take a look at our eight UK-wide visitor centres where you can explore science in a fun free and family-friendly way every school holiday or weekend.
- Be supportive - we’re all unique in our passions and it doesn’t matter if they aren’t sure what they want to do yet.
- Be patient, encouraging and provide the support they need to find their way whether that’s with tutoring, extracurricular activities or just celebrating their successes.
- You could encourage your child to look at volunteering for organisations that marry with their interests. They get to explore a variety of working environments, develop employability skills and make new friends all of which will boost their confidence. You can find a list of volunteer opportunities here.
- If your child is unsure of the subjects to take, you could encourage them to speak to a careers advisor or explore the below resources for guidance:
My World of Work – choosing GCSE options
Prospects career guide
The Complete University Guide
Which? guide to university
- Your child is young and it’s okay for them to change their minds. Roma who was part of the team that design London’s iconic Shard building, did just that – watch her story in 360°.