Targeting young people for careers in engineering

Targeting young people for careers in engineering

How can we encourage the young to study maths, science and engineering?

Whilst it may not always be possible to deal with temporary capacity shortages, it should be possible to ensure sufficient overall capacity in the longer term by investing in the engineers and scientists of the future. Addressing issues of capacity should be a shared task, led by government, but with the support of educators, institutions and practitioners to ensure success.

What can Government do?

  • Provide scholarships to those wishing to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) topics
  • Create more spaces at university for STEM subjects
  • Incentivise business to provide industrial placements for school and university students

What can educators do?

  • Hold competitions and reward children who do well in STEM subjects
  • Work with practitioners to make science and engineering real to children
  • Seek work experience for students; arrange site visits
  • Establish centres of excellence for STEM subjects

What can institutions do?

  • Make it a requirement of Chartership for members to spend time mentoring and coaching
  • Provide scholarships to those wishing to study their subjects
  • Lobby government to provide educational and work opportunities for young people
  • Encourage children to study STEM subjects at school (see the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund which encourages rural children to study mathematics and science, established by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Bridge Building Competition run by the South African Institution of Civil Engineering)

What can practitioners do?

  • Mentor children and young people
  • Work with educational institutions to provide career days or STEM awareness days
  • Act as judges at competitions
  • Supervise site/lab visits. Make STEM real
  • Be enthusiastic about their profession and pass on their enthusiasm

Create awareness and provide incentives

Success story - from National Science and Technology Forum of South Africa (NSTF)

Three young South Africans made history by being the first foreign country to win First Prizes in their categories as well as the Best in Category at the INTEL International Science Engineering Fair in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the USA.

Siya Xuza won with his project on the development of an innovative fuel for rockets. Raeez Lorgat won in the Computer category while Tanja Kellerman won in the Plant Sciences category where she developed a herbal remedy from indigenous plants to treat ticks. They won laptops and cash prizes and Tanja was also invited to attend a special camp in Israel. The Massachusetts Institute for Technology has named a distant planet after Siya. (www.nstf.org.za).

Young engineers and scientists of Africa - identifying talent through creativity and innovation
"Exposing learners to opportunities to promote creativity and innovation coupled with the development of 21st century skills such as high productivity, inventing thinking, effective communication and digital age literacy have to receive greater emphasis in the national curriculum even in deep rural schools." (www.yesa.org.za)
Young engineers and scientists of Africa - identifying talent through creativity and innovation "Exposing learners to opportunities to promote creativity and innovation coupled with the development of 21st century skills such as high productivity, inventing thinking, effective communication and digital age literacy have to receive greater emphasis in the national curriculum even in deep rural schools." (www.yesa.org.za)

Bridge building competitions

The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) initiated the bridge building competition 1991 to further high school learners' use of maths and science in an engineering context to grow the profession. It has since become an enormous success and is enjoyed by schoolchildren across the country, as well as neighbouring countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe. The bridge building competition forms an integral part of some schools' activities and is recognised on the same level as academic or sports achievements. (www.saice.org.za)

 

Further Reading