STEM Teacher Internship – Inspiring the Inspirers

Thursday, 8th October: Dublin City University has today launched the 2021 STInt (STEM Teacher Internship) Programme which will provide pre-service STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) teachers with the opportunity to gain skills and experiences within the STEM Industry. 

We all have had that one teacher that inspired us to step outside our comfort zone and embrace new challenges. A single teacher can influence thousands of students during their career and their own mindset and perspective plays a significant role in what they steer their students towards.

At the other end, there is the challenge of recruiting people with the right skills for our various industries. The challenge is particularly stark in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) sector where we need people from a diverse range of backgrounds to collaborate and create technological solutions.

A 2016 report from the STEM Education Review Group (STEM Education in the Irish School System, November 2016) highlighted a shortfall:

The overall levels of performance and engagement in STEM subjects are not good enough if we aim to provide the best for our nation’s children, and if we wish to sustain our economic ambitions for the future.

The report What Now for STEM published by Accenture in 2019 noted:

while there is broad acceptance of prioritising STEM, there is little evidence in schools of any correlation between STEM courses and students choosing STEM-driven careers.

For us to have a strong talent pipeline for the technology sector, we need more teachers to be encouraging their pupils towards STEM careers. However, most teachers are not sufficiently aware of what it means to be working in STEM, how you might get there and what people do after they get there.

The STInt (STEM Teacher Internship) programme is an innovative programme focusing on the collaboration between technology and education sectors to bring about real and enduring change to the mindset of teachers, and through them, the young people in their classrooms. The initiative places pre-service primary and secondary level STEM teachers into meaningful roles in tech/pharmaceutical companies for 12 weeks during the summer so that they can experience what a STEM career looks like. As well as the hands-on technical experience that they gain, they also get to see the soft skills that one needs to be successful in the industry. Once in their own classrooms, the teachers would be able to draw on their own experiences, to bring the topics to life and make it relatable for their students.

Developed by DCU in 2016, together with Accenture and the 30% Club, this programme has scaled every year and at CWIT we have supported and promoted this programme since its early days. The programme continues to expand, and the target for 2020 was to offer 50 placements to pre-service teachers. Of course, 2020 happened to be a year like no other, but despite the challenges eight companies (five of them members of CWIT – Accenture, Ericsson, Microsoft, Intel and Xilinx) were able to continue with their offer of internship to 16 students. The primarily virtual programme this year led to more frequent connections where all host companies were able to share their experiences and Ericsson, Microsoft, Xilinx and Dell further supported the programme by hosting valuable information and learning sessions that were open to all the 16 students.

This demonstrated that technology can be leveraged well in providing teachers with first-hand experience of the industry as the programme was adapted by host companies for a remote working environment. At CWIT, we hope that more member companies will join the programme, making use of current remote working environment, to host teacher interns or support by offering focussed learning sessions and help scale the programme widely throughout the country.

Paula Neary, Managing Director and STEM Sponsor, Accenture in Ireland said,

Ireland, like every country globally, is going through a process of disruptive technological change. We need a future proofed talent pipeline that is equipped with critical thinking, creative and functional skills and is comfortable with digital technologies. STEM subjects help cultivate many of these skills, but the uptake of these subjects at second and third level remains low. This was highlighted once again in Accenture’s most recent STEM report. The Teacher Internship programme is a great example of how industry can collaborate with the education sector to give teachers first-hand experience of how the skills developed through STEM are utilised across industry and the wide range of possible career opportunities available.  This helps them to broaden the mindsets of our future generations and prepare the workforce of the future.

If you are interested in participating as a host organisation in this programme, please email info@stemteacherinternships.ie or contact the programme’s Industry Liaisons Jennifer McKenna and Shalini Hollingum.

DCU Press Release

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