We are delighted and proud to be working with leading utility company, ESB this year to help spread messages about the importance of STEM education and we caught up with CSR Coordinator, Anne Cooney to find out more about the work that EB is doing in this area.
In what kinds of ways do ESB help develop future skills in science, technology, engineering?
From our perspective, as a leading Irish employer, it makes sense for us to support our young people in developing these core skills. After all, they are our workforce of the future.
We, in common with many other Irish companies, need access to staff with strong science, technology, maths and literacy skills and all of these are grounded in getting our young children off to the best educational start possible. ESB supports a wide range of initiatives across the country working to raise awareness and encourage and influence participation in STEM. Initiatives include Dublin Science Gallery, I Wish, TechSpace, and Midlands Science. More information can be found at https://esb.ie/acting-responsibly/community-stem-and-the-arts/promoting-innovation-through-stem.
Do you work with educationally disadvantaged communities and if so what types of projects do you feel work well?
ESB’s Energy for Generations Fund sees over €2m per year disbursed across a range of community and issues-based initiatives. Each year the Fund awards €1m in direct funding through a quarterly fund to charities working in the areas of suicide prevention, homelessness and education access and support.
ESB has been supporting initiatives in the areas of suicide prevention and homelessness since 2005 and we introduced a new focus on education in 2014, which recognises the need for educational supports at all levels to ensure that Ireland has the skills it needs to compete effectively in the future. We support organisations working in the area of education in very practical and effective ways to support our young people in developing core skills. Without a strong foundation in the basics, children will find their path through education, to whatever level they aspire, much more of a struggle.
ESB is also conscious that our staff and our company have been the beneficiaries of historically high standards of educational delivery. We have a duty to acknowledge and repay that investment made in us and we are pleased to be the national partner with An Cosán Virtual Community College. There are many barriers for people across Ireland in accessing further and higher education and An Cosán VCC is an innovative new programme which has the power to break down these barriers and offers a unique opportunity for anyone wishing to develop their skills and achieve their full potential.
How do you think we can do more to encourage young children to take an interest in science and technology? Are there any recommended ways for teachers to inform pupils about the electricity distribution network in a fun and exciting way?
We need to introduce young children to STEM at an early age – and show that it is fun! I am a firm believer that the earlier we start with educating our children, parents and teachers the better the future for all of us. We need to make STEM more appealing and demonstrate its relevance by showing how it is key to solving different challenges. And we need to show that it’s just as cool for girls to enjoy maths as it is for boys.
Electricity is so much part of daily life that we often take it for granted. It is a powerful and versatile energy but can be dangerous if not used properly. So it is essential to be aware of the potential dangers and make safety a priority for everyone. To raise awareness and educate school going children about electricity, ESB Networks has developed Junior and Senior Lesson Plans specifically designed to work with the electricity strands of the Science Curriculum. These lesson plans and other fun and educational resources can be accessed here.
Are there enough young people studying engineering at third level and are there currently enough graduates in STEM fields?
There is a worldwide skills shortage in STEM – and Ireland is not immune. There are not enough young people studying engineering at third level, and even fewer females. Many believe that if we can fix the gender gap, we can alleviate the skills shortage. Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that less than 25 per cent of the approximate 120,000 people working in STEM related jobs are female. As such, there is a significant focus now is on encouraging more females to consider and explore the world of STEM subjects. – See more at: https://esb.ie/blog/esb-in-the-community/esb-in-the-community/2017/02/06/i-wish-for-stem-success#sthash.7b1xxa18.dpuf