Looking to the education system to build a STEM talent pipeline

6 Feb 2016

A far cry from the last few weeks’ almost insane level of job creation, this week has been all about the other side of the job market – education and career development.

Of course, the tech job market did continue to grow, and 177 jobs were announced across Abtran, Data Solutions and Prim-Ed.

The real stories, though, came from developments in the Irish education system.

This week saw the beginning of MindRising, a digital project that utilises Minecraft as a learning tool to educate children about the 1916 Rising. It is thought that the use of computer games in the classroom can be hugely beneficial for students.

Google wants to take that one stop further, however, adding their significant weight to the growing number of organisations calling for coding to be added to the Leaving Cert curriculum.

While the Irish education system arguably lags behind in its efforts to develop the tech pipeline, it’s going from strength to strength in other STEM areas.

This week saw the finals of two robotics championships taking place. Cork’s EMC VEX Robotics competition and the First Lego League were both open to primary and secondary school students, and each saw an incredibly high level of innovation among competitors.

On the maths side of things, LearnStorm’s third annual event was launched this week. The All-Ireland maths competition will run for the next two months, and prizes to the value of €20,000 will be split among the victors.

Straddling the gap between education and the job market are internships and graduate programmes. We spoke to Jordan McVeigh who undertook a graduate programme at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and has since segued into a successful career with the finance sector firm.

In the job market itself, Hays Ireland’s recently released report into the state of SME recruitment offered a clarion call to government – change the current visa regime or the struggle for talent will become a bigger and bigger issue.

The talent gap is a huge concern in Ireland. One-third of the Irish workforce already holds STEM-related roles, but there are numerous positions – in SMEs and multinationals – that still need to be filled.

For more information on any of these stories, follow the links below.

1. 1916 Rising: A story told through Minecraft?

MindRising is upon us. What does this mean? Well, schoolkids up and down the country are building their own homage to the 1916 Rising through Minecraft.

2. Google urges Ireland to put coding on the Leaving Cert curriculum

It is critical for future generations of Irish people, especially young women, that computer science and coding are added to the Leaving Cert curriculum, the head of education outreach at Google in Ireland said this week.

3. Winners of Cork EMC VEX Robotics finals announced

After a weekend in which Cork students pitted their robotic creations against one another, two schools came out victorious in the EMC VEX Robotics finals, with the winners now heading to the US finals.

4. Moycullen’s Termin8tors wins 10th Lego robotics challenge

The First Lego League was held last weekend, with Termin8tors, made up of schoolkids from Moycullen, Co Galway, emerging victorious.

5. LearnStorm maths challenge adds up to €20,000 in prizes

Now in its third year, LearnStorm – formerly known as Mathletes – has officially been launched, with €20,000 on offer for the country’s best young mathematicians.

6. Global experience as a BofAML’s grad inspires a career in fintech

Jordan McVeigh, a participant on Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s graduate programme, never anticipated a career in the finance sector, but a few years at the global finance firm have made one thing clear – this is where he belongs.

7. Irish SMEs call for visa change to plug skills gap

45pc of SMEs surveyed for a Hays/ISME report would support changes to the current visa regime, such as removing the sponsorship requirement and making it easier for skilled overseas workers to seek roles in Ireland.

8. Almost one-third of Ireland’s workforce working in STEM-related roles

Ireland has seen a rapid surge in the number of people working in science and tech roles, with the proportion of the population now in these roles standing at 29pc, according to new research.

Looking for tech jobs in Ireland? Check out our Featured Employers section for information on companies hiring right now.

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Main image via Shutterstock

Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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