It used to be that only a few students per graduating class in a given year would be stand-outs in STEM education fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Often thought of as a bit socially awkward, they appeared to just see things differently. They looked the part, and we labeled them nerds and went about our business of excelling in the arts or literature – thinking these were the certainly the courses which made the world spin.
Well, the tables have turned.
Yesterday’s nerds are now affectionately called techies – and they’re making millions off their brilliant, geeky ideas. About time they got their due. And, aren’t we lucky to have them? Living on the edge of genius, they are the trailblazers leading our society to places we never dreamed were possible.
In fact, it can be exhausting, watching all of this come at us so quickly. What used to take years (even decades), can now happen in an instant. And, we’re having trouble keeping up. In fact, we aren’t – and that’s part of the problem.
Steps In STEM Education
Remember when you could finally solve your first algebraic equation, and then instantly wondered what in heaven’s name it had to do with the real world? Now, teachers are reaching outside of their classrooms, collaborating with lecturers across multiple subjects to ensure their students relate STEM to real life situations.
From secondary school to universities, science and technology are rising to the top of the A-list. Suddenly, nerds are trending, and startups are as common and passionately pursued as rock and the Beatles were back in the ‘60s. Intellectual property protection is a hot topic, and consulting with trademark solicitors has become mandatory – replacing the basic standards once thought vital to a company’s underpinnings.
That Was Then, And This Is Now
The impact of so many jobs having been downsized and deemed expendable has left hundreds of thousands of individuals bereft of income and stature over the past ten years. At the same time, there are few areas of our lives not impacted by the latest innovations, especially seniors not familiar with the Internet, or those with medical challenges.
Certainly, anyone with a cell phone or broadband access knows that somewhere, somehow, people with big new ideas are living very well. And they want a piece of that pie. Can they actually start now, and learn the new skills necessary to plug into a less worrisome future?
The answer is, yes. The technical industries have become our new ‘yellow brick road’ and the curtain separating us from the wizard has been yanked open. From simple computer courses and web development to ground-breaking scientific research – riding the wave of new technology has become possible for everyone. Even if math and engineering never crossed your mind, opportunities to break into the tech fields are everywhere.
You’re In Good Hands
The UK’s National STEM Centre, University of York, commands a thorough collection of STEM teaching and learning resources. Teachers now have the capability of accessing top quality support materials. The Centre also collaborates with business, industry and professional bodies to promote STEM career awareness, even offering a free online community to support education.
In an impressive recent speech on ‘One Nation Science’ by Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, indicates the UK’s commitment to “boost collaboration between business and universities and encourage diversity in STEM.” Britain’s goals for leading Europe in these innovations are proving to be successful, and the government is now encouraging the extension of this mission to all parts of the UK.
Johnson states, “Public investment in science delivers strong returns to the economy of at least 20% per annum, and leverages in private investment. We are today publishing research that shows that every pound of UK public funding for research generates between £1.13 and £1.60 of private investment and we know that private investment generates further returns to the UK economy of up to 50%.”
Staying In The Game
If you’re a startup, several factors are important to success. One is to be sure have guidance from appropriate legal services that match your intentions (from structure to custom documents). Then there is funding; and, fortunately the UK government is quite supportive in providing resources to help. There are also many incubator and accelerator programmes from which to gain advice, mentoring, and investment assistance.
Next on your list should be the very crucial decisions you make about the technology your company will be utilising. Don’t forget that having an IT expert on staff has become the new norm – and for good reason. So much depends upon your ability to maintain your connectivity. Literally, companies can be shut down for hours (or days) when computers crash or servers lose uptime. When you don’t speak ‘the language,’ it’s vital to have an employee who does.
Obviously, computer proficiency is a basic requirement for everyone from check-out clerks to sales representatives. Investing in the further technical education of your workforce will not only improve your company’s culture, it may be vital to take your brand to a level commensurate with the time and money spent.