STEM careers: new opportunities for young people and employers

Kenya has been experiencing a major resurgence in manufacturing, and this growing sector is offering young people a wealth of career opportunities.

If you are a young person looking for a career that is interesting, challenging and exciting, then it’s worth looking at STEM careers. However, it is not just young people who need to be more aware of the opportunities available in STEM companies; businesses, the government, educators and recruiters all need to work together to promote STEM careers.

The massive shortage of skilled STEM professionals is a growing issue for companies. Businesses must be more involved and engaged with young people than ever before. They are crucial in helping to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals and addressing the Kenyan STEM skills shortage. The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. These key areas should be a priority for parents, students, teachers and businesses as Kenya’s growing industries look for new talent.

There has been a considerable level of investment in Kenya’s advanced manufacturing industry, and new technologies like laser cutting, 3D printing and advanced materials are creating thousands of jobs. There is a real shortage of skills in these industries, and with a job market that is still tough to break into, STEM companies offer a wealth of roles that other industries can’t currently provide for young people.

For employers, finding the right candidate is becoming harder, and there are many ways that companies can encourage young people to consider a career in manufacturing. The current skills shortage means that 89% of STEM businesses have found it hard to recruit suitably qualified staff, with an average of 10 unfilled roles per business. There is so much more that STEM companies can do to engage with and inspire young people.

The excellent job prospects available are one of the most significant factors for young people looking for a career path, and educating them about the opportunities available in manufacturing is vital. Being involved in STEM days, special events, after-school clubs, career fairs and talks are essential for the industry as it moves forward, and open communication and involvement are critical.

STEM Learning bridges the gap between businesses and schools. By working with teachers in local schools and colleges, employers can help deliver a world-leading STEM education, inspiring young people and building the pipeline of talent in their area, making it a win-win for everyone.

Inspiring students

Specialising in science, maths, technology and IT is a great idea for students looking for a profitable career. Companies can also help with these subjects during the school day too, by giving presentations, being involved with local schools and finding opportunities for practical learning. Educational visits can be another strategy for businesses and schools moving forward. Looking around a fascinating, fast-paced, creative company can be just what students need to consider a career in STEM industries. It is also essential that young people are aware of the varied and diverse range of roles available in STEM industries. From coding clubs, to design challenges to field trips, making students aware of and involved in the STEM field is crucial.

Key skills for a STEM career

Looking at the skills necessary to thrive in the STEM industries is important for everyone involved. Clear communication between employers and schools can help educate young people about how to become a perfect candidate for a STEM role.

According to STEM education specialists, there are seven key areas where students can demonstrate their talents – these are statistics, problem-solving, creativity, argumentation, intellectual curiosity, data-driven decision making and flexibility. Students with an aptitude for any of these should be encouraged to hone their skills at school, at home and in the workplace. Extra-curricular activities that can help with these skills like coding, analysis and creativity are another great way that businesses and schools can collaborate.

Creating opportunities

Creating these opportunities for both young people and employers requires a higher level of communication between businesses and schools than ever before. Introducing children and young people to the fascinating and varied careers available in the STEM industries is paramount, and there are strategies in place to encourage this. Creative collaboration and partnerships with specialised STEM initiatives are useful not just for future STEM professionals but for Kenya’s manufacturing industry as a whole.

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