Custom Search 1

Your child could be the future of science. Here's why:

BUDDING ENTREPRENEUR: Calumn Daniel and his mother Dionne

DESPITE LOW numbers of black and minority ethnic (BAME) people employed in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sector, experts have predicted that African Caribbean pupils will play a key role in its future.

Across the country, local and community-based initiatives have been set up which are tapping into their enthusiasm for STEM subjects and the initiative to set up their own projects. Among the recent success stories is eight-year-old Callum Daniel, who came to prominence after building and coding his own robots.

The enterprising youngster set up his own robotics company, iCodeRobots, which teaches children between the ages of six and 12 how to build and code robots, and is backed by Loughborough University London and the London Design and Engineering University Technical College.

And according to Business in the Community (BITC), there is a significant number of British BAME students who are specifically studying STEM-related subjects at UK universities – a fifth of all UK- domiciled STEM students are from a BAME background, and as such, are an essential part of the UK STEM talent pipeline.

According to BITC figures, black African students had the highest representation (4.8 per cent), followed by Indian students (four per cent) and students of mixed/multiple heritage (2.8 per cent). Now, in a bid to tap into this emerging talent, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, left, has teamed up with The LEGO Group among others to create a unique programme that will fund up to 5,000 pupils from under-represented communities to use their coding skills and scientific knowledge to solve some of the city’s problems.

The first-ever Mayor’s London Scientist programme, launched in partnership with the British Science Association, is a range of new initiatives to boost the take-up in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, and particularly that of pupils of black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.

The new programme, the first of its kind in the UK, will allow pupils to enter their projects for a national CREST award – the top science award scheme for schoolchildren in the country. Khan has also joined forces with The LEGO Group and the Institute of Imagination to launch RE:CODE London, a new scheme which provides schoolchildren with a coding and robotics-based challenge to encourage them to think critically and problem solve around a real-world, London theme.


He said: “I want every aspiring young scientist, engineer, computer coder and mathematician to be able to fulfil their potential and have the knowledge and skills they need to enter the workplace in the future.
“Too often, careers like these seems closed off to particular groups and, as a result, there isn’t nearly enough diversity in the UK’s STEM workforce.”

PICTURED: Sadiq Khan

Khan added: “Some of the most fascinating jobs in the world are in STEM, and I want to see more girls and pupils from all backgrounds considering a career in this area. Initiatives like the Mayor’s London Scientist programme, RE:CODE London and the London Curriculum will help to inspire pupils at a young age, developing London’s future workers, business leaders and entrepreneurs, on whose skills and capabilities future economic growth depends.”

In recent years, Government ministers have attached high importance to the need to develop and grow a highly skilled workforce that can compete for the jobs of the future. Recently, the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology said that a healthy science base and a suitable supply of trained STEM graduates are vital for the UK economy to do well.

However, people from BAME communities are significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce, with just five per cent representation in the construction and engineering sector, and seven per cent in the energy sector.

Among those who welcomed the new initiatives is Dionne Daniel, mother of iCodeRobots CEO Callum.
She is among those who believes that talented young BAME pupils of today will shape the STEM industries of tomorrow.

Daniel told The Voice: “I definitely think it’s possible that young BAME could shape the future of STEM in the UK if they are given the right tools. There are loads of people like Callum and there are also loads of little boys and girls out there that won’t generally feel like the smartest ones in their class.
“However, they are not going to get the same opportu- nities unless we change something.”

She added: “Our kids are hungry, they want to achieve things and they’re ready and waiting.” Rashada Harry, director of Your Future, Your Ambition, an initiative aimed at encour- aging young people to pursue careers in STEM, agrees. She said: “The organisations that I speak to on a regular basis are definitely looking to bring in diverse talent.

“Before, it was a tick in the box for their corporate social responsibility. Now, there is a recognition of the genuine talent for STEM in BAME communities. Organisations are taking heed and noticing this.”

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Facebook Comments