Educational Practice / Educational Theory

Encouraging S.T.E.M. and other vocational fields in schools

The recent spate of articles across the UK highlighting the need for more graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has highlighted a key point about educational reform that is often missed. Let’s call it socio-economic feedback; what is missing is communication between employers and students.

I’m not talking here of those ‘graduate job fairs’ that pop up once a year, but something that feeds directly into secondary schools. Students want to feel that they can be a part of something when they leave college, and even more importantly, they want to feel that what they are learning is bringing them closer to that goal. At the moment, student focus on the future is limited to each hurdle of national examinations, and rarely further. I’m not suggesting that teenagers should pick their future career by 14, but that there should be an open channel of information between what is needed in the local and national economies (both industrially and socially) and schools.

In recent years many schools have instigated ‘career days’, but like any random, one-off event, the actual impact of these is arguably limited. Instead, why don’t we have local businesses, entrepreneurs and alumni running seminars, lecture courses and vocational trainings throughout  the school calendar. There is already space for extra-curricular activities, and this type of enterprise encourages local investment in the school. Call it work experience if you must, but lets draw away from the culture of internships that is plaguing life for graduates across Europe

The upshot of a system like this falls in school inspections. How can you measure the success of such a scheme? By what standard to you measure the level of school/community integration? The answer to these questions lies, I believe, in more localised reports from these participating businesses, parents, and local residents. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to do it right. Strengthen the community and its youth will find employment

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