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Strong growth in STEM-related subjects could help solve skills shortage

13 Aug 2019

Leaving Certificate results show increased uptake of science, engineering and maths subjects at higher level.

A welcome highlight of today’s Leaving Certificate results was the increase in the number of students sitting the higher-level maths paper. According to the State Examinations Commission, more than 18,000 students took the higher-level exam this year, reflecting an 8pc increase from last year and doubling the number that took the exam eight years ago in 2011.

Overall, uptake of STEM subjects increased by 5pc to more than 88,000 papers. Maths, engineering and construction, physics and technology studies are all on the rise, a promising sign given the identified skills shortage outlined in Engineers Ireland’s 2019 report.

Solving this pipeline shortage is crucial in continuing the supply of new infrastructure and technology and to guarantee future prosperity, sustainability and wellbeing for Ireland.

According to Engineers Ireland, over 94pc of engineering employers in Ireland are reporting skills shortages as the main barrier to growth within the sector. Gaps between the economic and societal needs of the country and the skillsets required will need to be sealed if we want to continue to innovate and flourish.

In response to today’s Leaving Certificate results, chartered engineer and Engineers Ireland registrar, Damien Owens, said: “The ability to understand and work with maths and science subjects is invaluable for future engineers. Knowledge of these subjects is vital to understanding and addressing global challenges, such as climate action and informing public decision-making in our democracy.

“As a small island nation, we are dependent on the quality and quantity of our STEM graduates and it’s very positive to see this increased interest in STEM at second level.

“In order to build on this interest, it is incumbent now on all of us – teachers, policymakers, parents and industry – to play our part in building further awareness of the exciting world of STEM at both primary and secondary level to meet the needs of society and industry.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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