Last week, Nicky Morgan spoke at the launch of the Your Life campaign, “It takes a pretty confident 16-year-old to have their life mapped out ahead of them”. If you are a student taking GCSEs or A-levels, you may be all too aware of the building pressure to settle on a career early, to be able to maximally utilise your time before entering an increasingly competitive job market, despite having little guidance regarding which domain to pursue.
The Your Life campaign, backed by both Government and giants of private business and technology industries, aims to encourage students to continue their studies in the STEM domains – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – beyond mandatory GCSE courses. Although these subjects have traditionally been viewed as highly vocational, with arts subjects conversely more flexible for the as-yet-undecided teenager, it is now apparent that STEM subjects’ value is high in an economic infrastructure increasingly dependent on technology and its development.
Led partially by GCSE students themselves, Your Life offers information, careers advice and fun, interactive ways for students to involve themselves in the STEM subjects. The campaign is currently running a Formula 100 competition, where entrants can submit a video describing an invention of their own creation that would make their dream job better; winners will have the opportunity to connect with over 200 leaders within the STEM industries who have already pledged support, and possibly have their invention made reality.
A secondary issue raised by students’ lack of progression to STEM courses is a clear gender imbalance not only within students pursuing these courses, but also the individuals populating these career sectors. Multiple studies have indicated both overt and subconscious bias against females in these subjects, stemming from students and administrators alike. Indeed, Morgan herself cited that only 19% of girls achieving an A* in physics GCSE went on to study it at A Level, as well as less than 1/3 for maths.
Beyond encouraging female presence in STEM, the ultimate aim of the campaign is to raise the number of young people involved in sciences and technology by half over the next three years. Morgan claimed that this would provide “50% more highly qualified and skilled young people equipped to take their place in modern Britain… to compete against the best in the world… to win the top jobs and reap the rewards. An increase that benefits not just them, but our whole country.”
What is your opinion on this campaign? Should the Government shoulder the responsibility to equip the youth of today for the world of tomorrow, or should students be encouraged to pursue their passion, regardless of economic benefit?
Written by Sophie Valentine
A MyTutor GCSE Tutor
photo credit: yourlife.org.uk