By Essie Bester
The world economy is changing. Existing jobs are disappearing due to automisation while new job opportunities appear daily. To make use of these opportunities, we will have to change our approach to STEM subjects, according to experts.
What is STEM?
STEM, a term coined by the American, Dr Judith Ramalay, in the early 2000s, stands for science, technology, engineering science and mathematics. A STEM curriculum blends the above-mentioned subjects while embracing key elements such as creativity, cooperation, critical thought and communication so that skills that will be indispensable for the 21st century can be acquired.
According to experts, the demand for employees with STEM qualifications and skills are already great and will continue increasing in the future. Currently 75% of the job opportunities in the fast-growing industries require workers with STEM skills.
Why is STEM so important?
STEM requires critical and creative thought, something that is essential to bring about the ability to problem-solve (a feature that is indispensable for adaptability). In its turn adaptability is important for survival in a time during which the pace is not only fast, but change is also radical. STEM empowers individuals with the skills to adapt to a fast-changing world.
Which skills will you need in the future to excel?
According to experts, it will include a blend of soft skills and traditional academic skills, namely:
The ability to define and approach problems and situation from different perspectives, to analyse every possible solution and consider the consequences and outcomes of every option before taking action.
Analytical skills refer to the ability to visualise, collect, articulate, analyse information, solve complex problems and make decisions. Reasoning ability allows you to use analytical and critical skills to recognise patterns in data, to understand what the patterns mean, and then use this knowledge to substantiate an assertion.
It requires the ability to find solutions where the smallest amount of effort can accomplish the greatest possible effect while at the same time solving various problems.
It entails a willingness to take risks and come forward with creative, even weird ideas. You have to be able to think outside the box.
It is of critical importance that you develop skills so that as member of a team you will be able to cooperate with others to reach a common goal.
The ability to convey complicated ideas to people with different backgrounds and titles is essential.
It is necessary to listen with the aim of hearing in order to understand the needs of others.
This entails the ability to acquire knowledge and new skills quickly.
To act consistently and take your values into account during your decision-making process.
Studies prove that employees who have a passion outside the workplace (for example a hobby which they feel passionate about) are more productive and more content with their work. They are also healthier physically.
If there is one ability you have to possess, it is the flexibility to adapt quickly to new demands and circumstances. It also helps you to acquire a broad spectrum of skills which can ensure greater viability in the labour market.
The ability to continue learning your whole life, is now more important than ever as modern career paths often require that you stay in one role only for a short while before moving on to the next. Not only should you be interested in the mastering of content, but you should also practise being an innovator, be willing to learn from mistakes and move on, Intellectual curiosity can help you in this regard.
How do I get my child interested in STEM?
The above makes it clear that it has for long not been a matter of how many facts your child can memorise – most information is after all just a finger click away and at everyone’s disposal on smartphones. What is important now, is your child’s ability to think critically and evaluate information in order to solve problems with the STEM approach.
Experts maintain that the best way to promote a love for STEM is to encourage curiosity – a characteristic that young children possess naturally. Encourage your child to ask questions, to investigate and to play. Help him to find his passions and to pursue them, even if they may change from one week to the next (something that is normal, especially in younger children). In this way you not only develop different skill sets in your child, you also cultivate a passion to discover new things that will ensure that he continues growing.