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Lack of skills could ‘stem’ NI’s competitiveness

  • STEM graduates are crucial to the continued development and competiveness of NI’s econonmy, a leading industry figure has claimed.

    Speaking at the RDS Primary Science Fair, held in Belfast, Karen Sheeran of the RDS said: “STEM graduates are crucial to the continued development and competitiveness of  the economy in NI, but we know from the recent MATRIX report that there is a gender imbalance within these industries that will take years to rectify.

    “The report showed that by 2030, 33% of young people moving into STEM careers in NI should be girls in order to balance this deficit and positon NI as an exemplar STEM region, to drive economic growth, yet we know that 80 percent of young girls are turning their back on STEM subjects by the time they finish secondary school.”

    Ms Sheeran’s comments were echoed by Carla McGlynn from Citi, a corporate judge at the Fair: “It’s so important to be out supporting events like this right at the very early ages when it’s possible to influence what children think about science and how they can use it in the future.”

    Thousands of primary school students descended on Belfast’s Waterfront Hall over two days to exhibit at the Fair, which is arguably the region’s largest STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) school exhibition since coming to Northern Ireland in 2017.

    Already well-established in Dublin and Limerick, three venues will host between them more than 7,000 primary school students in 2018. The Fair seeks to address long-standing stereotypes around STEM subjects and generate an interest in these subjects among young children, parents and teachers so they view careers on the STEM pathway as viable options – irrespective of gender.

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