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STEM subjects should be a focus to prepare for the future

Jennifer Brickwood Web

By Jennifer Brickwood, Assistant Principal: Engineering, Computing and the Built Environment

In recent years, the advancements in technology have been life-changing and have altered the way we all go about our every day. From electric vehicles to wearable tech and artificial intelligence, our lives now are vastly different to how they were only five years ago, and its likely things will look very different again in another five years.

Young people can often feel overwhelmed when asked what they want to do when they’re older, but it’s likely that the jobs they will undertake aren’t even jobs yet. Research shows that 65% of jobs our children will do don’t exist yet, as a result of the advancements in the fourth Industrial Revolution. The pace of developments in science and tech is ever-quickening, meaning that our world as we know it will change and progress, time and time again.

With this in mind, we must ask ourselves, how do we prepare our children for what doesn’t yet exist?

Every child should have the opportunity to access science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) from a young age, and it’s important to offer children the opportunity to explore these subjects throughout their early years, at school and as they progress through further and higher education. Providing a continuous stream of learning opportunities within the sector, and hands on experience, will ensure that any interest sparked won’t be lost in future years, when decisions around possible routes to jobs should be considered.

And so, as developments continue, what, and how, we teach must adapt with them. STEM subjects are not standalone, but are integrated into our everyday lives. Everyone in our world today is equipped with STEM skills – whether that’s as simple as knowing how to use a smartphone or understanding complex code. This means that we shouldn’t be teaching STEM as independent subjects, but should be approaching them holistically, with project-led learning that will allow students to apply learnings to the real world both now and in the future.

By teaching students metaskills – skills that create adaptive learners that can move with the introductions of technological developments – we’re equipping them with life skills that can be applied to whatever the world will look like in years to come. The ability to read and understand data, for example, is going to be a critical life skill as technology advances, and will equip our young people with the solutions to overcome complex problems.  At Glasgow Clyde College, around a quarter of our course offering is in STEM subjects, like computing, engineering, construction  and science, and metaskills are embedded in courses across the curriculum.

But, what is clear, is that regardless of the career path a young person chooses to follow, it’s certain that mastering STEM skills will provide them with invaluable skills for the future.