Young people need science, tech and math skills to perform the jobs of the future

 
Emma McGuigan
Science Laboratory
Young people recognise that many jobs in the future will involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Source: Getty)

In today's tech-driven world, the skills we develop in our personal and professional lives are becoming increasingly intertwined, and it starts young.

When children code through games like CodeMonkey, they aren’t just playing, but learning vital skills that will support them throughout their careers.

We are living through a complex digital revolution, and while keeping up with the fast-paced nature of technology may seem daunting, these skills are now becoming essential to almost every job type, from HR professional to archaeologist, film maker to food scientist.

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However, although the vast majority (84 per cent) of young people recognise that many jobs in the future will involve STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), they don’t tend to view these skills as relevant to their own career aspirations.

For example, our research found that girls are looking for the opportunity to be creative above all else in their careers, but only a small proportion associate a career in science and technology with being creative.

These kinds of misperceptions impact the uptake of STEM subjects, yet two thirds of young people later regret not studying STEM for longer.

It’s clear that we need to do more to expand young people’s perceptions about how STEM skills can be applied in a wide variety of jobs. However, I firmly believe that the responsibility for preparing our children for their future careers cannot lie solely with the education system.

We are at the point now where the speed at which technology is evolving means that the skills being taught in Year 8 might be less relevant by the time children reach Year 10, let alone A-level.

Businesses can play a key role by collaborating with the education sector to help children to learn about the digital skills that will shape the jobs of the future.

After all, business is at the forefront of the digital innovation that is rapidly transforming society, and we have the opportunity to help develop the future workforce based on our needs.

For example, at Accenture we found – through our engagement with schools – that teachers want to understand and experience for themselves how the most advanced technologies are being applied in the workplace.

That’s why we recently introduced a teachers’ work experience programme, so that they can visit our innovation labs, learn from our technology experts, and take that knowledge back to the classroom.

Businesses need to work harder to help young people to explore career paths that may feel very unknown right now.

The pace of change means that the jobs that many school-age children will undertake probably don’t even exist yet.

The challenge today is to ensure that they are well equipped for this uncertain future, and inspired about the limitless opportunities technology can offer them in their careers.

Read more: DEBATE: Are we over-focusing on STEM at the expense of creative skills?

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