UK Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is backing attempts to enthuse young people with a love of science.
She said: “Developing the best schools and skills is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future, and the skills taught by subjects like maths and science are some of those most valued by employers and universities. That’s why I am pleased to support the Your Life campaign to encourage more young people, and especially girls, to study these subjects by showing the exciting opportunities they can bring. “Our plan for education will ensure that all young people leave school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life in modern Britain. Increasing the focus on STEM subjects is a key part of this as it will empower girls and boys equally to leave school able to get a job and get on in life.
“The truth is, our world is changing beyond recognition, at a pace unmatched by any other point in history. That change is affecting our country in all sorts of positive ways, but it also means that, to succeed in the global economy, the British workforce of tomorrow has to have the skills and knowledge to compete in that changing world. “Even a decade ago, young people were told that maths and the sciences were simply the subjects you took if you wanted to go into a mathematical or scientific career, if you wanted to be a doctor, or a pharmacist, or an engineer.
“But if you wanted to do something different, or even if you didn’t know what you wanted to do, and let’s be honest – it takes a pretty confident 16-year-old to have their whole life mapped out ahead of them – then the arts and humanities were what you chose. Because they were useful for all kinds of jobs. “Of course now we know that couldn’t be further from the truth, that the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock doors to all sorts of careers are the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and maths. “The skills gained from studying these subjects come in useful in almost any job you could care to name – from the creative and beauty industries to architecture. Even in my former profession: the legal sector is crying out for more science graduates as patent law becomes big business.
“That’s why it’s so important that young people are aware of the opportunities these subjects bring, because they’re not nearly as popular as they should be In 2011, only 19% of girls who achieved an A* in GCSE physics went on to study it at A level. And whilst the figure for boys is better, it’s still under half. “There’s the same issue with maths. Fewer than two thirds of girls who achieved an A* in maths GCSE went on to study it at A level. And yet maths, as we all know, is the subject that employers value most, helping young people develop skills which are vital to almost any career. And you don’t just have to take my word for it – studies show that pupils who study maths to A level will earn 10% more over their lifetime.
“These figures show us that too many young people are making choices aged 15, which will hold them back for the rest of their life. “By working with these young people, this campaign is going to help dispel the myths about STEM subjects because they’re not stuffy, boring subjects for people who don’t get outdoors much. Far from it – they’re the keys to the most cutting edge, fast-paced areas of work and they’re behind some of the most exciting new developments in this country and around the world.
“Nor are they subjects that you can only succeed in if you went to the right school or had the right connections. In fact, quite the opposite – success in the sciences is one of the biggest drivers of social mobility, enabling young people from a range of backgrounds to access highly paid careers and opportunities. That’s why it’s so important that the study of these subjects isn’t just limited to a handful of schools who coach their students – it isn’t just unfair, it’s a waste of talent as well. “And you don’t have to be male to be taken seriously in the STEM industries. I care deeply about the futures of today’s young women, about their academic choices, about their career successes.
“If we want to make the most of half of our workforce, if we want to eliminate the gender pay gap and if we want that same half of the workforce to succeed in jobs that boost our economy, then we must make sure that teenage girls don’t feel, and certainly aren’t told, that certain subjects are the preserve of men. “
“Of course now we know that couldn’t be further from the truth, that the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock doors to all sorts of careers are the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and maths.”
UK Education Secretary