The Regional Skills & Talent Agenda – Oriel Science asks: what are we doing to raise the aspirations of young people and equip them with the skills they need for exciting careers?
If you type “skills needed for a job” into Google, a total of 327,000,000 results are generated. Each entry will offer its own take on which skills are most desired in today’s job climate. Professor Chris Allton, Director of Oriel Science at Swansea University believes that the two most sought-after skills are technical expertise and the ability to communicate.
Prof Allton goes on to explain that there is a skills shortage in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Medicine), and this is likely to continue for some time. Also, as job roles are evolving at a faster speed, employers need to hire staff who can continue to update their skill set, particularly in technical areas.
To provide this adaptive workforce, schools and universities need to nurture inquiring minds in young people. This mind-set will give them a lifelong passion to learn new skills. Prof Allton says “children ask a thousand questions a day, and that’s a trait we should encourage”.
Inspiring young people with Oriel Science
How can universities do more to inspire young people to make the important career decision to undertake further/higher education studies? One answer is to alter the image of universities which can be seen as self-contained and aloof.
To better engage with the community, Swansea University has Oriel Science, a project whose mission is to captivate and educate our community about scientific research. Professor Mary Gagen, Deputy Director of Oriel Science, says “When young people’s passion for a particular subject or interest is nurtured and given a chance to grow, we help create the conditions for innovation”.
Oriel Science brings science to the community through exhibits, workshops and talks, hosting events such as “Super Science Sunday” in the National Waterfront Museum – which welcomed 3,500 visitors, the Oriel Science Café monthly talks programme, and numerous school and community activities. Oriel Science takes STEMM out of the laboratory and brings it into everyday settings to break down the barriers and misconceptions around scientists to show that “Science is for All”.
What does this means for the next generation?
It’s sometimes thought that young people today lack aspiration. However, Oriel Science believes that all young people are ambitious to achieve great things in their life. Prof Gagen explains that unfortunately “when young people from challenging backgrounds start to grow up, the barriers to success in their lives – which can be social or economic or related to discrimination in our society – can cause those ambitions to lose momentum”.
To prevent this from happening, Oriel Science shows young people the educational choices to take to fulfil their aspirations so that everyone, no matter what their background, has the same opportunity to achieve. Becoming a scientist requires a passion to learn and a desire to maintain their childhood curiosity, their background is not relevant.
Prof Gagen adds, “I can’t wait to see what future generations in Wales invent, develop and what problems they help our society solve – it’s a really exciting time to be a scientist!”
Oriel Science plans to establish a “phase 2” permanent city centre venue to continue the success of our earlier projects, including our “pilot” pop-up venue in the heart of Swansea.
If you would like to partner with Swansea University to inspire the next STEMM generation in our city centre venture, please contact Oriel Science. Together we can inspire a new generation of thinkers!