Accenture STEM teachers
The first batch of interns from l-r: James Doyle; Amy Bennett; Clodagh Finnegan; and Tom McMahon at today’s launch. Image via Naoise Culhane

Accenture and DCU launch STEM internship programme for teachers

31 May 2016

Accenture Ireland has launched a pilot internship scheme that aims to help trainee teachers pass on the knowledge of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects by giving them hands-on experience working in various STEM roles.

A launch was held for the STEM teacher internship programme this afternoon (31 May) at Accenture Ireland’s offices in Dublin in partnership with Dublin City University, with the aim being to enable teachers of the future to better inform their students of what’s out there, career-wise.

Giving trainee teachers a three-month, full-time position in Accenture, the programme emphasises the aim of increasing participation of female students with STEM subjects.

Response to worrying reports

The decision to run the programme comes following Accenture Ireland’s and Silicon Republic’s joint 2014 and 2015 reports, which showed that, while the vast majority of girls appreciate that STEM subjects create a lot of career opportunities, stereotypes persist, and a high proportion of girls believe that the subjects are too difficult and better suited to boys.

Among the list of attendees at the event today was Ann O’Dea, founder of Inspirefest, who was among those discussing the challenges in Irish society that we still face when trying to overcome a lack of diversity in STEM industries.

This programme grew out of Women Invent research carried out by Silicon Republic and Accenture, which identified teachers as key influencers on students’ subject choices, second only to parents.

Five trainee teachers to be given positions

One of the central recommendations emerging from the report was that industry needs to engage with teachers to support and inform them, and now Accenture Ireland and DCU have come together with the 30pc Club to take this action.

During the course of the programme, five trainee teachers (each in their third year of studying for a BsC in Science Education) will take up positions as interns within the company’s technology practice for the summer, working on real-life client projects.

For 10 weeks of the programme, the trainee teachers will get to work as part of existing client service teams on real-life technology projects across public and private sector clients in industries such as financial services, life sciences and health and the public service.

Accenture Ireland and DCU said that pending the successful completion of the pilot, there is potential for this curriculum to be rolled out to the broader education faculty in DCU and other education institutions and host companies.

Paula Neary, a managing director in Accenture and sponsor of the STEM programme, said at the launch: “As Ireland continues to position itself at the epicentre of the world’s digital economy, we need to future proof the talent pipeline so that half the population is not excluded from the opportunities that STEM presents and, to this end, industry has a role to play.

“The objective of this programme is to provide teachers with hands-on industry experience in the sector so that they’re better positioned to provide guidance, encouragement and bring their experience to life in the classroom.”

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Book your tickets now.

Colm Gorey
By Colm Gorey

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic. He joined in January 2014 and covered AI, IoT, science and anything that will get us to Mars quicker. When not trying to get his hands on the latest gaming release, he can be found lost in a sea of Wikipedia articles on obscure historic battles and countries that don't exist any more, or watching classic Simpsons episodes far too many times to count.

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