Thousands Expected to Turn Out for STEM South West Industry & Careers Showcase: “Today’s Learners - Tomorrow’s Leaders”
Roll-out of industry-led initiative will highlight Ireland’s growing STEM opportunities
Thrilling demonstrations of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), MedTech and Engineering to be showcased by Ireland’s most dynamic tech sector companies
Cork 23rd October 2019 - “We must provide our students with the support and knowledge to give them the belief and confidence they need to pursue a career in STEM”, such is the contention of the industry body behind the STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Maths) South West Industry and Careers Showcase. This free event, which will take place at the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork, from 4 to 9pm, on Wednesday November 13th, is expected to attract students from all over the region.
The body collectively responsible for the event is made up of several industry stakeholders, including business organisations that create over 30,000 jobs in the region, local authorities, and educational partners CIT, UCC and IT Tralee. The event, which is targeted at secondary school students in the South West region, is the brainchild of these organisations coming together to put on an exhilarating and fascinating “showcase” of the STEM in practice in some of the most dynamic and revolutionary companies in Ireland.
Approximately 50 of Ireland’s leading tech, pharma, engineering companies and educational organisations will come together to showcase exciting and interactive exhibitions. Some of Ireland’s most talented STEM professionals will be on hand on the day to speak with students, to give them an insight into the many roles and pathways to a fulfilling career in STEM, and to answer any and all questions put to them by attendees. The list of exhibitors is a who’s who of tech giants, innovators, and best-in-class professionals of Irish industry, and their willingness and desire to be a part of this event is a testament to how much the industry wants to foster and nurture STEM education in Ireland. While many of the students may not be familiar with the organisations and businesses in attendance, it is the organisers intention that they will leave excited about the world of possibilities that STEM holds, having witnessed some of the thrilling demonstrations of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), MedTech and Engineering that are planned.
Speaking at the launch of the event, Mike Flannery, Director of Operations Technology Development at Johnson & Johnson, stated:
“We have an exciting event planned for these students and their families, and we have no doubt that what they take from their attendance could influence the choices they will make regarding their education and careers for years to come.”
Organisers of the event say that STEM South West will provide a unique platform for STEM stakeholders in the region to increase engagement with the next generation of prospective STEM students, to facilitate connectivity with other STEM organisations, and to enable knowledge-sharing and problem-solving with all organisations involved in regional STEM development.
On behalf of Cork County Council, County Mayor Cllr. Christopher O'Sullivan concluded,
“Employment in the country is strong. If we want Ireland and the South West to continue to grow as an IT, pharma and life sciences cluster as a collective, then as STEM industry sectors we need to communicate the varied entry pathways and exciting possibilities of a career in STEM. STEM-related businesses in Ireland are currently competing aggressively for talent and provided we can keep delivering the high calibre of qualified graduates in line with what we have done to date, then the jobs marketplace for STEM graduates will remain strong and secure and the STEM sectors will continue to flourish. I would encourage all students and their parents / guardians to visit www.stemsouthwest.ie for more information, and come along to the free event on November 13th to see for themselves how they can STEM their future.”
An Tánaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney went on to comment,
“The future of the Irish economy is reliant on a skilled STEM workforce and that workforce is reliant on the choices our students make today about what they study and where they go in their careers. We have a 40,000+ student population in the South West region – we need to speak with these students before these choices are made – to open up the world of possibilities that lay out before them in STEM related industries”.
The STEM South West industry body say that although much has been done to date to highlight the importance of STEM to students, the fact remains that many of them still don’t know or don’t believe that they could have a future in these sectors.
Kerry O’Keeffe, HR Leader at Gilead Sciences continued,
“Studies have found that female students in particular in Ireland are simply not aware of the prospects that STEM could hold for them. It is up to us to address this information gap, to start a conversation with all the students of Ireland. And what we put in, we will get out 10 -fold – that’s for certain. Today’s students are tomorrow’s business and industry leaders, and the STEM sector is dependent on their success.”
In 2019, there was an increase in the take-up of STEM subjects by 5% in the Leaving Cert, to 88,000 papers. But there is widespread agreement that, while the increase is encouraging, Ireland needs to build on these numbers. The body say there is a clear need for a coordinated strategy to promote the region, incorporating the STEM industries within it, as a location in which talent has the opportunity to grow and thrive, leveraging regional strengths while developing skills and competences that can be utilised on a global basis.
Ray O’Connor, South West Regional Manager IDA, went on to say,
“Ireland continues to attract some of the most innovative and successful global businesses today, including those in STEM industries, and it is crucial to develop and maintain a pipeline of STEM talent to meet demand. This very welcome industry-led initiative gives students an opportunity to explore the STEM study option and to find out how it can lead to successful, exciting and worthwhile careers. I wish all involved every success with this event.”
Mr Pádraig Leahy, Managing Director of PLAS Consulting Engineers, commented,
“I was lucky – I knew I wanted to do engineering since I was 10 years old! But what I didn’t know was this innate passion would lead to me to be a business owner. I honed my craft with other companies over the years but I knew I had my own ideas that I needed to bring to fruition – and that was the start of my journey from start-up to heading up a consulting business that provides services to clients such as Kerry Group and Eli Lilly. The beauty of working in an area of STEM is that you can see the output of your input – be it the products or services you deliver to the end user – there is huge satisfaction in knowing that you yourself created something which can solve a problem for someone. I think if we can introduce this prospect to more young people from an early age then we would be doing them a great service and making a really positive impact on their future."
The STEM South West Student Expo
What: STEM South West, Industry & Careers Showcase
Where: Rochestown Park hotel
When: Wednesday Nov 13th.
Time: 4p.m. to 9p.m.
Details: This is a free event but registration for tickets is required – you can register at https://www.stemsouthwest.ie/
CIT – Faculty of Engineering & Science
CIT - Blackrock Castle Observatory
CIT - National Maritime College of Ireland
Cork College of Commerce
Cork County Council
Cork Electronics Industry Association
ITS (ww.itsl.ie - robotics)
The Amateur Coder
UCC - Tyndall
UCC – Marei