STEM programs aim to provide focus on these specialties, increasingly so for young people in education. Although, from a broader perspective, STEM is vital to the economy as a whole.
Last Wednesday, I hosted a ‘STEM – Inspire others’ workshop, designed to encourage cross-collaboration across the wider energy industry in the North East of Scotland. At the Oil & Gas Technology Centre our aim is to inspire a culture of innovation and this workshop was intended to get the conversation flowing. What is there to be done? What can we all do to get the ball moving?
STEM is an area that resonates with me not just from a professional perspective but from one a little closer to home. My family has a close relationship with STEM careers, particularly fishing and marine engineering, and my son is an engineer working offshore. So, it’s important to continue that family legacy into the future which means embracing and adapting to changes within the industry.
At the OGTC, our role is to encourage the use of technologies where it can increase efficiency and move our industry forward. Just now when people hear STEM they automatically think of engineering. It’s our goal to change that mindset. Science, Technology and Maths are just as equally as important. It’s time to shine a light on the opportunities available, opening up doors for new ideas – that’s exactly what Wednesday was all about!
In the past, we have always competed for the best talent in the oil and gas industry, now we’re competing with new sectors. The world is always changing and right now as an industry we’re facing global challenges. Not only are people calling for change from a climate perspective, but truth is, the industry is just not as attractive as it once was for young people. Why would you want to work here when you can work at Google? We need to compete with that.
One of the biggest obstacles in STEM is quite simply that children and young people are not engaged with STEM – it can be seen as a little bit boring. So, as an industry we need to help these young people understand they can do it, it can be fun and there are so many different paths to take. Let’s show them the art of the possible!
The problem is STEM is misunderstood. You’re not going to be an engineer in a boiler suit, completely manual and covered in oil all day. I mean, you might but most aren’t. Reality is that a career in STEM is full of creative and innovative roles. Young people need career opportunities that are reflective of the future and challenge existing mindsets.
What does a STEM career look like? Well…Going forward, we want to create an Energy industry STEM network that encourages collaboration across the sector. To combine resources and deliver consistent messages to children, young people, their parents and teachers.
Quite simply, if we have helped young people to find a career or education path in STEM that they love, we will have made a difference. An idea of a future that excites, inspires and encourages their talents; I’ll be happy.
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