S.T.E.M. is the core department of our Institution. All our other schools, divisions, labs and units are very connected with or dependant on the staff, infrastructure, knowledge and technology developed in this department.
The science and technology based sectors, employ large numbers of different types of S.T.E.M. graduates, working in a variety of settings from research & development to marketing, especially in the business to business sectors such as Information Technology.
Science jobs are not all the same.
One of the department’s key aims is to encourage more young people to consider a career in science. Research shows that the understanding of the careers available is generally poor and that the most common vision of a ‘scientist’ is someone who works in a lab in a white coat, probably undertaking research into something fairly obscure and distanced from everyday life. This is not surprising. Most publicly funded public engagement activity has focused around research and academia, and media coverage of ‘science’ is most commonly about research and breakthroughs. Many, within the science community, consider you need to be in the elite group of those with a PhD to be considered a ‘scientist’.
One of the most obvious ways to define scientists, was to draw on the central discipline underpinning their work: physics, chemistry, biology, soil science, psychology etc. Professional bodies around the world also work around sectors such as energy or water but this doesn’t help to describe what people actually do in their work. In order to give some shape to this, we need to have a better understanding of not just the knowledge that scientists need to have but also the skills they will use in their work.
A science professional may have a career as a scientist, in science or from science.
Working as a scientist they will be in a S.T.E.M. environment and the role will be clearly recognised as a science role. Working ‘in’ science they may be in a S.T.E.M. sector but will have moved away from direct day to day science and be influencing, supporting, promoting, managing, leading and shaping. Scientists also move into the wider employment sector where their science knowledge and wider skills are also valued and these are ‘from’ science. Even within these broad categories the roles differ.
S.T.E.M. skills and knowledge are of course valuable in many types of non STEM businesses – marketing, modelling, product development, finance, insurance, communications etc. but in the S.T.E.M. related business to business environments (e.g. pharmaceuticals marketing and IT services) a high level of technical and specialist knowledge is essential. They must have sufficient scientific and technical knowledge to be credible with colleagues and competitors and over time they will have opportunities to progress through the company to higher levels at which their scientific knowledge is valuable but their management and business skills are essential. At senior management board or executive board level, they may be in a minority of those with science knowledge and will have to cover discussions and decision-making on new products, competition, health and safety etc.
Education for a strong S.T.E.M. economy is built on strong subject teaching. The number and quality of lecturers recruited to train to teach S.T.E.M. subjects plays a significant role in our success. As students progress, they require specialist knowledge to challenge them. S.T.E.M. subjects are usually taught individually, providing students with the benefit of specialist teaching.
Effective provision of S.T.E.M. requires a foundation of strong subject teaching. Alongside this, our institution and member institutions of our alliance, work hard to ensure that young people are aware of the range of opportunities that STEM study opens up for them. A great degree of collaboration in planning and delivery of S.T.E.M. activity is required. This in turn reflects the combination of scientific research, design and technology, innovative engineering and the application of mathematics which enables inspirational technological advances such as greener energy generation or the development of new medical treatments.
In order to achieve collaboration, a range of conditions have been found to be key facilitators. These include real commitment and a clear vision for STEM from the senior leadership team, with dedicated staff identified and enabled to implement S.T.E.M. activity within our institution.
A well-qualified STEM workforce is crucial to business and industry. Graduates in S.T.E.M. subjects can expect to receive amongst the highest salaries of all new recruits. And this message is clear across the STEM education and training landscape. Our S.T.E.M. department helps to inform policymakers on the critical role that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [S.T.E.M.] education plays in competitiveness and future economic prosperity.