Showing young people the rewards of a career in STEM

The third STEM South West Expo takes place tomorrow, April 6. MADELEINE HEARN, STEM South West board member and career guidance counsellor, gives us a flavour of what to expect from the virtual exhibition
Showing young people the rewards of a career in STEM

Sarah O'Sullivan St. Angelas Secondary, Elaine O'Donnell Gilead Sciences, Aimee Hickson Mahony St Aloysius College and Marguerite O Sullivan Chair STEM Southwest Pictured at the launch of the 3rd annual STEM South West Expo 2022. The virtual Expo is a FREE event will be held on April 6th from 5pm to 9pm. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

ROLES in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are more important than ever, given the enormous social and environmental challenges we currently face all over the world.

STEM careers offer a chance to make a real difference in the world we live in, and anyone who works in any of these sectors will tell you how interesting, rewarding and fulfilling their jobs can be.

The world of STEM and the diverse career opportunities in these sectors that the South West region has to offer will be the focus of this year’s STEM SW Expo, now entering its third year. This industry-run initiative brings together Ireland’s leading tech, pharma, science and engineering giants, together with local authorities and educational partners at MTU and UCC.

We are so excited by what we have in store for students this year. April 6 promises to bring an exhilarating and fascinating ‘showcase’ of STEM in practice, in some of the most dynamic and revolutionary companies in Ireland. 

We will feature demonstrations in virtual reality, robotics and astronomy, as well as thought-provoking talks from experts in the areas of construction, information technology, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, electronics, weather-forecasting, agri-technology, environmental engineering, and cybersecurity.

The virtual exhibition aims to bring our younger learners to the fascinating and exciting world of STEM, with a view to giving the great minds of tomorrow a glimpse into the huge array of possibilities and opportunities that await if they choose a career in any of the STEM disciplines.

Madeleine Hearn, STEM South West board member.
Madeleine Hearn, STEM South West board member.

While it’s vital to ensure that Ireland’s STEM industry base is secured and that the right conditions are nurtured to support and attract new start-ups and entrants; equally important is attracting the students of today to the industry and giving them the right skills and opportunities to enter STEM careers, so they can tackle some of the global challenges of tomorrow.

Within the classroom itself, there are ways that STEM teachers can support students who are interested in studying STEM topics. The first way is to make best use of your in-house STEM expertise and resources - work collaboratively with your science, computing, D&T, engineering and maths faculties and use their knowledge and inspiration to support your student guidance and careers strategy. Bring career learning into the classroom by sharing STEM careers resources like posters, job profile examples, further study route information, and labour market information (LMI).

When planning career activities, support students to understand the wide range of jobs available in STEM sectors, including both STEM and non-STEM skilled roles, especially the fantastic opportunities for girls and women. 

Use themed awareness events like Science Week and Ada Lovelace Day to shine a spotlight on the people that work in STEM sectors or use STEM skills in their work.

Anyone working with school goers and leavers should be thinking about how they can create meaningful encounters that expose students to information about STEM further study routes. Events such as the STEM SW Expo are perfect for this as it creates the chance to meet people who work in the industry and have a passion for what they do. We need to show our young people just how rewarding and exciting a career in our industry can be for them – and the endless possibilities that lie ahead should they choose to study anything in this field. The question of how to engage these bright young minds must be at the forefront of all we do as education professionals.

The event, which is free to students from all over the country, presents a live, virtual exhibition space, providing an opportunity for students, parents, industry members, and jobseekers to connect with people who work in STEM on a daily basis and get up close to the inner workings and processes involved. Exhibitors include some of the country’s largest employers such as Johnson & Johnson, DePuy Synthes, Gilead Sciences, Plas Engineering, MTU, UCC, PM Group, and many more. Attendees can explore the media and digital content available at each exhibitor’s virtual stands, with exhibitors ready on chat to answer any questions.

STEM South West is doing important work in promoting STEM subjects in schools – work which is not just integral to the sector itself, but to the futures of our young students and the economic interests of the country as a whole. Feedback from previous students has been that the event has had a “significant” impact on them, with 9 in 10 students who attended previous events saying that they would now be more likely to choose a career in STEM having attended the virtual Expo.


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