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A Parent's Guide to

Science, Technology,

Engineering & Maths

STEM: What's it all about?

Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are an integral part of the Irish economy and is a growing area that is set to be a fundamental part of Ireland’s future success as a country.

STEM also provides some of the most exciting, diverse and fulfilling careers available. STEM skills are now crucial to the modern world and are vital to Ireland’s innovative capability and global competitiveness..

The decline of graduates in STEM qualifications means that Europe is facing a big shortage of scientists, researchers, engineers and technicians.

This shortage creates a great opportunity for Irish students to gain excellent career prospects in an increasing number of diverse positions and sectors.

Demystifying STEM

For many students and parents, there is still a stigma attached to STEM subjects in school. Subjects like science and maths are often portrayed as more difficult than other subjects on the curriculum, while other myths regard STEM subjects as being boring and irrelevant. We need to debunk these misconceptions and encourage our young people, especially girls, to look beyond these stereotypes and explore STEM careers so they are well prepared for the jobs of the future..

What skills will a STEM student Develop?

Problem Solving:

Being able to identify problems, design studies to gather data, collect and organise data, draw conclusions and apply what they have learned to novel situations.


How to creatively use STEM concepts learned in the classroom by applying them to real-world situations.


Recognising challenges or gaps in the market, then creatively designing, testing and implementing solutions to solve them.

Logical Thinking:

Being able to apply the rational thought processes of design to innovation and invention.

How to encourage your child to consider STEM

As parents, some of us may have negative perceptions of science, technology and maths from our own school experiences, or simply from a lack of first-hand experience.

It is important that we don’t pass these on to our children without giving them a chance to explore these areas themselves.

In a recent survey conducted by Smart Futures, 51% of students stated that they were influenced by their parents when it came to picking a college course.

Challenging misconceptions about STEM

Girls as young as four or five are sometimes discouraged from learning how to investigate how things work or to create and construct things in a hands-on way, with the attitude that this is 'something for boys'.

Given that girls often outperform boys in science and maths in school, such stereotypes need to be addressed early, to ensure that all students know that STEM careers are open to everyone.

How you can help

Help teenagers to open their eyes to the vast choice of exciting career paths and opportunities in the STEM sector.

Explore website likes, and to familiarise yourself with alternative entry routes into courses and help your child attend college open days.

Smart Futures provides relevant, real-world examples of women and men who have studied STEM courses and are now working in STEM-related roles in Ireland.

Why not encourage your daughter or son’s school to hold a parent’s evening and invite a STEM volunteer to visit and share their career story?

Contact or Tel: 01 607 3015 for more information and visit to read 100+ STEM career stories, watch videos, access free downloadable career infographics.

Check out our other articles to help you choose an after-school activity for your child

Don't forget to checkout our After School Activities homepage