STEM education is a basis for entrepreneurship

Mastering science, technology, engineering and maths is not just about getting good grades but about fostering the next generation of British business leaders

STEM education is a basis for entrepreneurship

The UK job market is suffering from a huge STEM skills gap. According to the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, 43% of STEM vacancies in Britain are hard to fill. Not only does this lack of trained professionals mean that recruiting employees is extremely difficult but the absence of STEM skills could also indicate that future entrepreneurs lack other skills essential to succeed.

So which skills go hand in hand with an aptitude for science, technology, engineering and maths? For starters, let’s forget the notion that STEM and creativity are on two opposing sides of the spectrum. Arts and design skills are intimately intertwined with STEM subjects – don’t forget the iconic works of Leonardo da Vinci. For instance, did you know that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely than average scientists to be painters, 12 times more likely to be poets and four times more likely to be musicians? So it’s hardly surprising that the education sector often use the acronym STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and maths.

Problem solving

Creative thinking naturally leads to creative problem solving. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has reported a positive correlation between problem solving skills and abilities in maths, reading and science subjects. Put simply, if we want the next generation to succeed in all aspects of adult life then a great place to start is with a good STEM education.

Analytical thinking

So how does a STEM education foster those life skills that are increasingly critical for success in our rapidly changing world? It’s really about learning how to make good decisions. STEM subjects teach students about focusing on relevant information, asking the right questions and how to separate facts from assumptions. These skills are not only necessary for navigating life but are essential for achieving success. Just remember how important it has become to educate kids to spot fake news. Few would argue against the notion that this skill must be seriously invested in to create a society of informed and responsible citizens. Perhaps global competence teachings will be combined with science classes in the very near future?

Calculated risk-taking

This is where we really start to uncover why a good STEM education might foster those entrepreneurial tendencies. The inherent creativity of an individual who is engaged by STEM subjects is the vital ignition spark, which is then balanced by the careful and methodological thinking that is ingrained as the basis of understanding STEM subjects.

Bloom’s taxonomy

And this combination of skills is described in Bloom’s Taxonomy of High Order Thinking Skills. In short, it’s the difference between knowing or remembering simple facts and the ability to understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create at the highest level. In the real world, this translates as success in designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising and making.

Our changing world

Each successive generation is faced with the challenge of succeeding in a world that is changing ever more rapidly than before. As Jeevan Vasagar, Singapore and Malaysia correspondent at the Financial Times, pointed out back in 2014: “As repetitive tasks are eroded by technology and outsourcing, the ability to solve novel problems has become increasingly vital.” The businesses of the future will be created to address issues such as climate change and healthcare. This is where our future entrepreneurs will be cutting their teeth.

The future is bright

So with investments being made to bridge the STEM skills gap in coming generations, will we also see the development of individuals with the creative problem-solving skills and entrepreneurial drive to create a lasting positive impact on our brave new world? Let’s hope so.

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