Friday, 7 September 2012

STEM: Careers Advice

Investigating the supply of students studying STEM subjects, the Higher Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects report noted that those choosing their GCSEs and A Levels need to be aware of how their selection will affect their career options later.

The Government launched a National Careers Service in April 2012, and the Select Committee makes the recommendation that it provides advice about:

  • STEM subject choice at school, and the consequence of this for further study and careers
  • Choices available in STEM subjects at the Higher Education level and beyond
  • The advantages of pursuing a STEM degree
  • Jobs available to STEM graduates within STEM and other industries

Much of this information is already available online, from both government and commercial sources, so this may provide an opportunity to consolidate it in one location. Existing resources include:

National Careers Service – from the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills
Cogent - a Sector Skills Council licensed by the government, providing careers advice in scientific sectors
Prospects - “The UK’s official graduate careers service”, providing careers advice and job/internship listings
HECSU – a charity supporting careers advisory services, and providing graduate employment research
Future Morph – highlights STEM pathways from school age, created by the Science Council
National STEM Centre  - STEM resources for teachers
GetSmaart – career role profiles
Informed Choices – a comprehensive guide to making decisions about post-16 education from the Russell Group (h/t @DavidBarrRSC)

In addition, there are careers pages on job sites such as NewScientist Jobs and Target jobs which provide similar information. Everythingyouwantedtoknow also appears to be a useful resource, including links to the job pages of the Times Top 100 companies, careers fairs and other careers advice sites.

Online resources aside, the inquiry recommends improving the quality and provision of careers advice within schools. Given most teachers lack the experience to advise on careers within STEM industries, and with many “having limited experience of work outside the education system”, the Select Committee also makes the recommendation that

“schools should ensure that support for careers education through continuing professional development (CPD) is provided to those offering careers advice to students.”

If nothing else, the HECSU What Do Graduates Do? reports should be compulsory reading for anyone providing careers advice in the UK. These include information on the number of graduates from each subject, and their destination 6 months after qualification. A focus on the 2011 chemistry stats can be found in a previous post here.

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