Ireland has a perennial problem convincing young people that doing science, maths, engineering and physics is a good career choice.
I won’t argue with the numbers. John Collins in The Irish Times asserted last Friday;
DESPITE RECENT increases in the unemployment rate, an estimated 7,000 vacancies remain unfilled in the technology sector while average salaries are continuing to increase.
It sounds like heaven. So why aren’t CAO forms clogged with people fighting to get into a technology course? The usual answer is supplied by Ciarán Ennis from IBM Ireland in the same article
The drop-off in people pursuing careers in technology is directly related to the boom and bust of the late 1990s and early years of this decade…That tainted the industry and it coincided with a boom in construction
But really, that doesn’t hold water as an explanation. The late 1990s are now 9 years ago (I know, sorry to point that out). The people filling in their CAO forms this year were 9 when the first web bubble burst. I doubt greatly that they’re still chastened by the fate of boo.com.
So, what’s the problem with science and technology? I’d like to propose that the people least able to answer that question are people who have chosen to pursue a career in science and technology. By definition, they don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to do their subject- they all picked it.
If they want to reach people who aren’t currently choosing science and technology they need to broaden the base of characters trying to advocate it.
The difficulty with this is that for the underlying problem to be solved the world of technology will need to change itself to be more attractive to a broader range of people.
dumb themselves down to catch your interest? shouldn’t you, instead, raise your game?
That’s a legitimate position. (well, it would be if I’d suggested that dumbing down was the way to go. But we’ll leave that aside.) But it isn’t a position which will move anyone closer to the declared end result- persuade people who are currently shunning technology and science that it is a career that will welcome them or a subject that will reward their efforts.
Comments gratefully accepted on this post, as I’m so far away from my home patch.