Local development company Atlantic Corridor is pleased to share a recent analysis of Higher Education Authority (HEA) data which indicate a noteworthy rise in the number of Midlands students entering third level courses in Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM). The analysis, when compared with a similar study carried out in 2008 shows an average increase of approximately 41% in the share of students studying STEM across the Midlands during a six year period.
Martin Cronin, Chairman of Atlantic Corridor welcomes the recent news,
‘These figures demonstrate that students are really listening to national messages about the importance of relevant, high-value qualifications in STEM fields. They also indicate that targeted educational initiatives like the Midlands Science Festival are starting to have real impact. With science, we really need to start influencing young people from an early age and it is critical that we continue to actively encourage the next generation by providing new and more diverse ways to learn.’
SFI Discover, the education and public engagement programme of Science Foundation Ireland, organises national Science Week which aims to catalyse, guide and inspire the best in STEM education and public engagement. Atlantic Corridor recently hosted the Midlands Science Festival for the second year running during the nationwide ‘Science Week’ to promote the relevance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in our everyday lives, with a focus on the four Midlands counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath. This year’s Midland Science Festival saw over 4500 people in attendance across the region throughout the week at entertaining and educational science talks, shows workshops and demonstrations.
Upon closer examination, the aforementioned analysis reveals that the number of students now studying a STEM related course from Laois has increased by 35% while in Offaly it has risen by 53%. In Longford, there are 15% more STEM students whilst in Westmeath there has been quite a staggering increase of 60%.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, commented:
‘I am delighted at the striking increase in local students seeking to pursue a scientific field. Science and related fields are crucial to building the competitive strength of the midlands and in growing our economy. I commend Atlantic Corridor’s critical work in promoting science education in our schools and higher level institutes across the midlands. The pursuit of excellence in science has particular relevance given my Government’s proposed midlands regional pilot on Action Plan for Jobs. The aim is that the pilot framework for the midlands will serve as a model for other regions and will maximise the potential for job creation in the region.’
Many of the global medical technologies and pharmaceutical companies now have a dedicated presence in Ireland it is critical that we ensure the adequate talent pool is available to them here in the Midlands. A recent report by accountants Grant Thornton concluded that while Ireland continues to outperform its competitors in attracting FDI there are still issues that need to be addressed such as skills shortages within the ICT, science and engineering sectors.
Much of the good work being performed by Atlantic Corridor in STEM promotion is as a result of relevant global links and international partnerships which have been developed and fostered over the past ten years. In close cooperation with national and international partners and other State Agencies to foster the international dimension of Ireland’s economic growth, Atlantic Corridor continues to provide effective international relations for a variety of projects.
By continuing to work with key corporate and academic partners, the hope is that the number of students pursuing STEM at third level will continue to rise and we can work towards ensuring the necessary human resource pool is in place here in our local economy.