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SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORKPLACE

STEM COURSES AND CAREERS

IN ASSOCIATION WITH


September 19 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORK PLACE | 3

STEMists hold the key to Northern Ireland’s future success ‘W

HY’ is often a more interesting question than ‘what’, ‘how’ or ‘who’. When it comes to Science alone, it can provoke an almighty debate such as those initiated by Darwin in the 19th century and by Schroedinger and Einstein in the 20th. The debates continue to excite passion today as we hear constantly in the mainstream media about genetics, about anthropomorphic climate change, relativity and quantum mechanics. Now I’m the last to suggest that Science does not contain deeply philosophical questions but that alone is not the reason that I and others in this supplement, argue vehemently that our whole society needs to take Science, much, much more seriously. Adding Technology (how things are done), Engineering (the fashioning of our infrastructure) and Mathematics (adding the numbers and data), makes STEM endemic to our everyday life. However, a more accurate accronym these days is ISTEAM, which adds Innovation and Art (Creativity/Design) into the mix. It is not enough to have the technical skills, we need to be able to apply those skills to develop products and ser-

Introduction from Dr Norman Apsley OBE, CEO Catalyst Inc vices that will enable us to create and grow businesses which in turn will create jobs and wealth. As a society, we tend to (over) emphasise the firsts, the Nobel Prize discoveries, the (Guinness, Olympic or World) record holders and the inventors. At the same time we underestimate the vital importance of the innovators, the entrepreneurs and the decision makers who bring the fruits of these pioneers into our lives for better or for worse. To play in this world we each must take part, to the limit of our ability. Skills in this world move up and down the value and supply chains. Many of us commentators, have long talked about 3-d printing. Today, I read that BT network engineers share their needs and ideas for new connection tools and other widgets by the very fibre they’re installing, each printing a tool locally according to need. Health as a service is changing rapidly. Where once the doctors and nurses out-numbered other professionals by a long chalk, now engineers

and other STEMists are above 10% and growing because of the legion of complex imaging technologies and bio-chemical assays that the medic needs to call upon. These advances are the very essence of the Knowledge economy - the use of information and intelligence to solve problems, unlock opportunity and power prosperity. As we look forward 5, 10, 15 years it is hard to predict exactly the types of jobs there will be. But, we do know the type of skills that will be needed to ensure our companies and entrepreneurs will succeed. Ultimately we have the potential to deliver a greater prize than Northern Ireland has ever experienced – its evolution into one of Europe’s most entrepreneurial knowledge economies by 2030. Our local talented people have the ability to create innovative companies that could provide solutions for many of the world’s major problems be they in communication, health, energy, environment, transport or food. The starting point is STEM, to which can be added the best human values and fair practices that society can impart. It’s a tall order but the best time to learn is now, whether you’re six or sixty. Please take this supplement seriously and begin your journey, if you haven’t already!

As we look forward 5, 10, 15 years it is hard to predict exactly the types of jobs there will be. But, we do know the type of skills that will be needed to ensure our companies and entrepreneurs will succeed

Inspire young minds!

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5, the award-winning science and discovery centre, is the STEM Ambassador Hub for Northern Ireland. W5 is working to attract, recruit and train professionals with STEM skills to volunteer as STEM Ambassadors to support every youth group, primary and post primary school in Northern Ireland, to push STEM, and highlight the range of STEM careers available right here in Northern Ireland. The organisation is working to link STEM Ambassadors with local schools so they can act as role models and help inspire and engage young people about the value of STEM in their daily lives. W5 also aims to help those employers in the industry get to know and engage with schools in their local community. The STEM Ambassadors Programme aims to provide STEM Enrichment and Engagement opportunities for young people through a range of talks, careers events, and hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths events. On many occasions, it provides students with an opportunity to speak directly to representatives from local STEM employers who could offer practical assis-

tance with subject choices, exploring training and Further Education options and alternative career paths. W5 is currently working with over 200 Northern Ireland companies who are actively supporting the STEM Ambassadors Programme at W5. But they need more support to help ensure that our young people develop the skills and knowledge for the future. If you would like to get involved and sign up to offer your support for this invaluable initiative, or get your company involved with inspiring young minds to the excitement of a career in STEM, please contact Julia Carson on 028 9046 7722 or email juliacarson@w5online.co.uk.

The Physics of Martial Arts’ event at the annual Friendship Four Festival of STEM at W5


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Belfast Telegraph | September 19 2017

People with STEM skills needed for a better society By Dr Robert Hardeman Chair of Matrix NI Science Panel

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N innovative and creative society, where people are encouraged to fulfil their potential, will mean more people working in better jobs. The work of the MATRIX panel has regularly shown this to be the case. MATRIX is a business led panel of experts formed primarily to advise government, industry and academia on the potential commercial exploitation of R&D and science and technology in Northern Ireland. All of our recent reports, which cover topics as diverse as Advanced Materials, Manufacturing & Engineering, Digital Creative Industries and Life & Health Sciences, have stressed as one of their main conclusions the need for a steady supply of people with STEM skills. These skills are not just needed by those industry sectors though; they are needed throughout our whole society. Increased awareness of the role of technology in healthcare, for example, can benefit individuals, family members and the wider community, helping achieve the Programme for Government aims of building a more healthy, active and equal society.

levels, from school leavers through to post-doctoral graduates and across a vast range of occupations. Whether your interest lies in virtual reality, animation, artificial intelligence, aerospace or medicine, the career prospects are excellent. Studying STEM and working in a related area can lead to a highly rewarding career, and not just in financial terms – although many don’t realise how well paid jobs in these sectors can be. A career in a STEM related area is also valuable in personal terms, by being able to make a real difference through products and services that improve our everyday lives.

Aiming for diversity

New pathways

A cross cutting element of STEM skills is the need to increase the diversity of those choosing to study or begin working in STEM. This is a vital factor if we are to maximise our opportunities and meet economic need. Change is required to make sure that STEM working environments are inclusive and are places where people have an equal opportunity to participate and advance their careers. The Department for Economy’s recently updated Skills Barometer reinforces the potential opportunities for people with STEM skills at all

It doesn’t necessarily mean degree-level study either; apprenticeships in Northern Ireland are currently undergoing a major redevelopment, introducing a new, world class system of professional and technical training. Underpinned by quality, breadth, progression and portability, the new apprenticeships will help support the development of a highly skilled workforce, providing consistently high quality training leading to qualifications valued by all parties. Under the new plans, students can choose to move directly into employment, learning on the

Studying STEM and working in a related area can lead to a highly rewarding career, and not just in financial terms

job and gaining qualifications and support from a further education institution while earning a good wage. They can then, if they choose, go on to gain a degree from one of our universities at later stages, if that is appropriate. The flexibility of the new apprenticeship system will offer a genuine alternative pathway to the higher level skills and qualifications needed to grow the local economy. It is people who drive change - people who

have the desire and abilities to do so. Science and technology and people with STEM skills play a critical role, not only in driving the economy, but also in helping create change for the better in education, health and society. This supplement profiles a whole range of interesting and rewarding careers available in STEM professions, and demonstrates how we can continue to build Northern Ireland into a world beating economy for the future.

PROFILE Paul Morrow, NIE Networks

Paul Morrow joined NIE Networks as an overhead lines apprentice and is now studying to become an Electrical Engineer through the NIE Networks Apprentice to Graduate scheme. HOW HAS YOUR CAREER DEVELOPED WITHIN NIE NETWORKS SO FAR?

I joined NIE Networks in 2011 as an overhead lines apprentice and my career has developed quite significantly. During my time as an apprentice I trained practically and academically on how to work on the electricity network. This meant spending time in the dedicated in-house training facility and working alongside experienced training instructors and teams out on site. Gaining the academic and practical knowledge of this industry gave me a passion to take it further and encouraged me to apply for the ‘Apprentice to Graduate’ programme. This programme, sponsored by NIE Networks, enables me to study at Queen’s University Belfast to become an Electrical Engineer. At the moment I have just completed my summer placement and I’ll return to university before coming back next year to complete my work placement. I feel like I’m in a unique position because I have practical knowledge of the electricity network that I can apply to my studies.

DESCRIBE A NORMAL WORKING DAY

A normal working day currently involves travelling to a base location for 8am. I would address any emails I have received from the previous day and liaise with my manager about the tasks to

I feel like I’m in a unique position because I have practical knowledge of the electricity network that I can apply to my studies be completed that day. I could then be analysing a diagram depicting the NIE Networks’ electricity network to determine which areas require tree maintenance to protect public safety and to prevent power cuts; I might be talking to clients regarding work programmes or in a meeting discussing new policies that are to be implemented.

WHAT ARE YOUR CAREER ASPIRATIONS?

Well firstly I want to complete my degree and then, once I have gained more experience and knowledge, I would like to progress towards a manager’s role.

Visit nienetworks.co.uk for more information on careers available.


September 19 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

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HE Department of Education wants our young people to be ready to take up the exciting and interesting opportunities in fields such as engineering, computing and science-based design. The global demand for people well-qualified in STEM subjects remains high as the application of technology accelerates. Success in STEM not only opens doors for individuals but is vital to the future growth of the Northern Ireland economy. The Department actively promotes STEM subjects, including programmes to encourage female participation, so our students can access these interesting and well-paid careers. The Department of Education’s front-line core delivery partner, Sentinus, continues to promote innovation and creativity in STEM. We invest £300,000 to fund the core programmes which are delivered to approximately 44,000 young people each year. Since 2009-10, the Department has also invested around £2m in improving teachers’ skills and knowledge so they can better encourage, nurture and inspire young people to realise their potential in participating in STEM subjects.

Giving young people a chance to shine in STEM The Department also invests in opportunities for pupils to demonstrate their innovation and creativity in STEM subjects, such as: • Schools here have made many high-quality entries to BT’s Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. The exhibition allows pupils in Years 8 to 14 to demonstrate their creativity and interact with their peers. • The RDS Primary Science Fair had its first outing to Belfast in 2017 and will be back next year giving primary pupils a chance to build their STEM skills in a non-competitive forum. • The Sentinus Young Innovators competition is another opportunity for pupils to showcase their projects and partake in interactive workshops. Teachers and pupils find these events and competitions rewarding not only in terms of demonstrating STEM-related skills, but also in developing team working, creativity and problem-solving skills.

SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORKPLACE | 5

Why we want our young people to succeed in STEM Making a mark at home In 2015-2016 40% of all GCSE entries were in STEM subjects and the results for that year demonstrate how well local students performed: Subject

NI Pass rate A* to C (%)

Biology

94.2

Chemistry

94

Physics

96.2

Science (Core)

41.2

Science Single Award

72.1

Science: Additional

81.5

Science Double Award

90.1

Mathematics

67.2

Maths (Further)

94

Information and Communication Technology

81.6

Design and Technology

79.8

At A level STEM subjects account for 43% of all entries in Northern Ireland (2015-16) with Maths being the most popular subject making up 1 in 10 entries. Further Maths, Computing and Software Development are all growing in popularity. Results show the level of success being achieved by local students

Subject

NI Pass rate A* to C (%)

Biology

82.1

Chemistry

85.4

Physics

82.2

Mathematics

88.3

Maths (Further)

96.8

Computer Studies

78.6

InformationTechnology

78.7

Psychology

67.7

Design andTechnology

79.1

Making a mark internationally

Aimee Hegarty from St. Mary’s College Derry, doing some construction with ArcKit at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2017 Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells

The most recent TIMSS and PISA reports (2015) also delivered positive news on the progress being made on STEM subjects. These showed that our young people are performing above the international average in science and maths. It is also very encouraging that the proportion of 15-yearolds who aspire to a career in science is greater in Northern Ireland (31%) than the average across OECD members (24%). There is, of course, much more that we can do to encourage and deliver high quality delivery of STEM subjects. But our young people and teachers can be proud of their achievements. The Department of Education will continue to encourage all young people to grasp the opportunities and pursue Young people at the Generation Innovation Night their ambitions through education and attainment. of Ambition at St Georges Market


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CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE INNOVATIVE CONCEPT YOU CREATED?

The innovative concept that I have created, called the Mobile Phone Tidy or MPT, allows the user to connect a charging cable to the back of the product, hold the mobile phone and plug into the wall. You are able to attach the charging lead and charge the phone with no cables visible. It is universal so therefore it can hold most sizes of mobile phones. It can come in different colours and can even be personalised. It is a very simple solution to the problem.

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM YOUR PRODUCT SOLVES?

My mum was the catalyst behind my idea. With charging leads lying everywhere in our house and her continual shouting at how untidy they were (her OCD kicked in), I decided to look into the problem. My dad, who is a technology teacher, encouraged me to develop solutions in card and look at a cost-effective way of solving the issue.

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY THAT THERE WAS A GAP IN THE MARKET FOR YOUR PRODUCT?

When I came up with a solution I asked some of my friends in my class to test it. The feedback from them and their families was extremely pos-

Belfast Telegraph | September 19 2017

Meet an Innovator

Clara Deehan, Sentinus Young Innovator winner 2016 Year 13 St Joseph’s Grammar, Donaghmore itive and gave me the confidence to enter The Sentinus Young Innovator competition in Belfast. This was a very positive experience and I won the Northern Ireland Sentinus Broadcom Intel Masters Competition, and represented Northern Ireland at the Intel Broadcom Masters Young Scientist and Engineer Fair in Los Angeles. I reached the semi-final of Catalyst Inc Invent and my local business centre sponsored me to make a video as I was in Los Angeles with my product. They also put the video on their website and it received 23,400 views. With over seven billion mobile phones at present I think there is huge potential for my MPT.

PROFILE

My mum was the catalyst behind my idea. With charging leads lying everywhere I decided to look into a solution

HOW DID YOU MAKE YOUR FIRST YOUR PROTOTYPE?

I made my first prototype out of card, which gave me a good guideline for size and shape and also where to bend. I then used Solid Works to draw my product and I then cut it on the laser cutter. I then used the hot wire strip heater to shape the plastic. I also sent my drawing to a 3D Printer and produced a prototype using it. I am currently exploring a cost-effective way of producing the product.

PROFILE

Leo McCavana, Penetration Tester, Allstate

Sam Fraser, UX Product Designer, Allstate

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A TYPICAL WORKING DAY?

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A TYPICAL WORKING DAY?

Strictly speaking there is no typical working day, which keeps things interesting. My first daily task is reviewing email responses from client teams about new project queries, setting up meetings or answering any ad hoc queries that come my way. Depending on the day of the week, I will either be picking up where I left off on a specific project, writing up a report to present back to my clients or peer reviewing projects from my co-workers. I spend quite a lot of my time preparing for forthcoming projects in terms of researching possible attacks and ensuring that I have everything I need to make things go as smoothly as possible – it helps to keep us at the leading edge. I try to finish up around the same time every day as much possible. If I’m working from home, it’s only a 10 second commute to the kitchen.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EDUCATIONAL/ CAREER PATH TO THIS POST?

Most people are amused when I tell them that my first degree was in Media Studies. After graduation, I did a conversion course in Computing and Information Systems at the Ulster University, firstly a post-graduate diploma and then a Masters. After graduation, I started off doing a lot of technical writing instructional design stuff, followed by some web and multimedia development, before being attracted to the Information Security team at Allstate in 2004. I started off as a technical writer specialising in application security, such as secure coding guidelines for developers. After a number of years I progressed into Security Architecture, then in 2013, I jumped at the opportunity to cross-train into penetration testing. That’s been my most rewarding role to date. Education and training never ends, so I keep up to date with all the latest stuff online and even have my own ‘hack-lab’ at home.

tives of customers and attackers. Outside of my work, I’m a customer of a lot of organisations who may be in possession of data held about me and my family. I love the convenience of the online world, but I’m also acutely aware of security and privacy related issues. Inside work, I try to think like a customer/user and an attacker. When I think about customers, I want to ensure that I’ve done my best to detect any vulnerabilities/weaknesses. It’s not just a matter of personal pride in the job, it’s about doing the right thing for customers.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY LIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB?

No two projects are ever the same; you are always discovering new things. I work with a lot of different types of technology and a very diverse range of customers across five time zones. And yes, I do get to work with a lot of gadgets, which is nice!

CAN YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE FUTURE JOB PROSPECTS IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

It’s incredibly healthy at the moment; there is a shortage of people working in cyber security and not just in my specific area of expertise. With every new type of technology, somebody somewhere is going to find a way to attack it, it’s a great time to consider a career in information security.

HOW DO BALANCE YOUR CAREER WITH WHAT TRANSFERABLE SKILLS HAVE YOU YOUR PERSONAL LIFE? USED IN YOUR VARIOUS ROLES THAT HAVE A work in progress. It’s something that’s getting COME FROM YOUR STEM TRAINING? more manageable thanks to the great flexible The one thing that sticks out most was the need to understand things from the point of view of a customer or user. There is always a need to look at how things can be done better and how it is possible to create new things with those skills. Even now as a pen tester, I frequently have to use my coding skills to create small tools that help me find security vulnerabilities more easily.

HOW DOES YOUR WORK AS A PENETRATION TESTER MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE? I actually think about things from the perspec-

Each morning we start the day with a lab standup, where all the teams come together to review anything people may need help with, interesting things we’ve learned and discuss any upcoming events. It’s a really nice way to start the day, and lasts about 10 minutes – we even use an Amazon Alexa to tell us who will be the next presenter. Then it’s time to get to work. I typically review our product tracker to see what the priorities are, if the developers need any design items, I make sure I’m working on the right pieces. I mostly work in Sketch and InVision. Designing workflows for our software then creating clickable prototypes to use in usability testing. I work in an Agile XP methodology. This means I work with a balanced team of developers, a product manager, and myself the product designer. We all come together to build one product.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EDUCATIONAL/ CAREER PATH TO THIS POST?

I’m Canadian so at the end of high school I had several interests for post-secondary: Linguistics, Psychology, Ecology, Interior design, Fashion design and Web design. I ended up starting interior design, but moving then into ecology, before eventually taking a part-time web design program. I’ve also worked in many different industries and roles including receptionist, web designer, graphic designer, marking assistant and even as a youth leader. My vast array of jobs and studies has benefitted me in the long run. Don’t worry if it takes you a while to find your role. The skills and knowledge you build along the way are always valuable because they give you greater insight and awareness, especially useful in a UX role!

WHAT TRANSFERABLE SKILLS HAVE YOU USED IN YOUR VARIOUS ROLES THAT HAVE COME FROM YOUR STEM TRAINING?

working policy we have in place at Allstate. I work both at home and in the office, so that works well for everyone.

Time management is one of the best things you can learn during university and college. The next most useful skill I picked up is analytical and critical thinking. The ability to pick apart a problem and find solutions for the different aspects of that problem is invaluable in any role.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND CYBER SECURITY TO YOUNG PEOPLE PLANNING THEIR CAREER?

HOW DOES YOUR WORK AS A UX PRODUCT DESIGNER MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE?

Yes definitely. It’s a subject I’m very passionate about. There are just so many different roles associated with cyber security today and they don’t all require coding skills or the ability to ‘break into something’. If people like puzzles and solving problems, then they’ve come to the right place.

You know when you use a piece of software and it just works? That’s us. That’s what we get to build and create. Those experiences that you may not even notice because they’re seamless. We get to help make your life easier by designing software that doesn’t get in the way.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY LIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I love problem solving. That balance of creativity and critical analysis is hard to find in other roles; the variety of people that come to a UX career make it so interesting to work in. You can come in with a background in computer science, art and design or even psychology!

CAN YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE FUTURE JOB PROSPECTS IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

There are lots of opportunities! UX is going to be more in demand. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening – voice user interfaces, artificial intelligence, automation, even virtual reality, we’ll get to work in all of these areas.

HOW DO BALANCE YOUR CAREER WITH YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?

You definitely need to find the right company that works with your goals and lifestyle. I’m quite lucky to work somewhere that puts a big focus on employees. We have breakfast provided to us each morning, scheduled breaks at 11 and 3pm, an hour for lunch, and a ping-pong table for when you just need to move a little! The hours are important too, my hours allow me to still schedule time for myself outside the office – like taking a sign language course, or going to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Being able to fit all this in is important to me. Allstate is a great office.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND UX DESIGN TO YOUNG PEOPLE PLANNING THEIR CAREER?

This role is a perfect blend of design, creativity, problem solving, research, learning, and helping people. Depending on what type of UX role you end up in, you can be a blend of all, or you can start to specialise in a specific area (user research, interaction design, visual design, prototyping, and information architecture).


September 19 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORKPLACE | 7

Educating for global success

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RISTOTLE said ‘educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all’. Currently our educational system focuses on transferring knowledge to the next generation. While this knowledge transfer is essential to innovate and further a country’s economic growth; does it always enhance our student’s conceptual awareness to effectively apply their knowledge? As a teacher, I taught with an awareness that my pupils were extrinsically motivated by the summative grade. Students need to find their passion to drive their own learning and study. Tony Wagner, author of ‘Creating Innovators’, advocates that this passion is a building block for student success in the era of innovation. However, increasing pressures of ‘teaching to the test’ fail to allow students the time and the space to explore the subject areas for themselves. As a teacher with external examiner experience, I prepared my pupils to structure their responses to best meet the mark scheme rubric; I understood that consistent results contribute to departmental targets and maintain relationships with parents anxious for their child to achieve the top grade. However if I stopped ‘spoon-feeding’ – results would fall? Certainly I would struggle to access support to engage in the industrial visits; experiences which facilitated the vocational learning necessary for effective contribution to society.

CAN STUDENTS SELF LEARN?

The other side of the challenge asks – are students actually able to self learn? For many students the ‘safety blanket’ is to access the most comprehensive set of notes, download mark schemes and learn by rote. How does this scenario aid their development of critical thinking? While we should admire their ability to gather the resources needed to perform to task; how does this process and means of assessment effectively prepare them to contribute to a world of work driven by the ability to problem solve and innovate?

By Diane Morrow Generation Innovation Programme Manager Catalyst Inc

Increasing pressures of ‘teaching to the test’ fail to allow students the time and space to explore the subject areas for themselves

In August, Northern Ireland celebrated a 98.3% pass rate of A*–E across the 30,000 students sitting A Level examinations; at GCSE a pass rate of over 79.5% of students achieving A*–C, higher than the UK average rate. While these results highlight the hard work and dedication of students and teachers, how aligned are these results to the talent pipeline Northern Ireland Plc needs for an innovation driven economy?

2030 VISION

Economy 2030, outlined by Department of Economy in January 2017, challenges Northern Ireland to become a globally competitive economy, through accelerating innovation and research, sustainable growth, succeeding in global markets and building the best economic infrastructure. This 2030 vision recognises the need to give access to an ‘education system which provides our young people with the skills for life and work’. There is a global movement spearheaded by the World Economic Forum around the need for the effective development of 21st century skills for continued global economic growth. Have we, as Northern Ireland Plc, identified the 21st century skills required for our economic growth? Have we put in place effective measurements and tracking of a student’s skill set? The Knowledge Economy Report published by Catalyst Inc, with research gathered by Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre, forecasts 40,000 direct jobs and a further 40,000 downstream jobs by 2030, but these opportunities re-

quire a pipeline of talent who are adaptable and agile in the face of increasing automation. These 80,000 jobs reflect the innovation era and require future employees to be led by their curiosity, creativity to find problems, an ability to work collaboratively across global boundaries. Yet these skills are not currently valued by our education system in the same way as we value ‘academic smarts’.

JOBS FORECAST

The forecast for 80,000 jobs by 2030 gives our young people in Northern Ireland the opportunity to benefit from salary levels 45% higher than the NI average, the opportunity to contribute to productivity levels driving Northern Ireland’s place on the global stage, an opportunity that we

need to be prepared to take advantage of. So I come back to Aristotle’s premise – ‘to educate the heart’ requires the ability to spark a passion for learning developing intrinsic motivation. If our students are able to develop their skills around adaptability, critical thinking, curiosity and problem solving throughout their education journey, we prepare them for life and for the ever-changing world of work. However, to educate the heart requires the ability to facilitate learning beyond the mark scheme. If we continue to measure achievement as an A* – E grade, as a society we stifle curiosity and creativity; we reduce the capacity for innovation and we significantly decrease our young people’s ability to effectively contribute to the economy.

Invent Student Awards highlighting young innovators

Student Invent Awards Meet an Innovator Charlotte O’Kane 3rd Year University Ulster Product Design student Placement with SEE SENSE

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S part of Connect at Catalyst Inc’s annual Invent competition, the search for Northern Ireland’s next breakthrough invention, a special event is held to showcase the top scoring pupils and students who entered the competition. The Student Final was held at the Belfast Campus of Ulster University in front of an audience of year 11 pupils from across Northern Ireland and was sponsored by Ulster University.

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HEN I was at school I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished. I was always more into creative subjects than academic subjects and I wasn’t aware of career pathways for creatively minded people in Northern Ireland. At A Level, I took Art, ICT and Chemistry with the view to completing a degree in computer sciences. Six weeks into Year 13 I realised that I was only doing these subjects to please my teachers; I was highly demotivated and wasn’t enjoying school. I arranged to change my subjects, keeping Art but taking on Spanish and Product Design. I chose the subjects I felt comfortable with, the subjects I enjoyed doing. My parents weren’t pushy and they let me do what I felt was best when it came to school. At this stage I knew design was the direction of my career path and that if I was going to do something, I should enjoy it. I had an extensive portfolio of product design, fashion design and fine art from A-Level and when the time came to pick university courses I attended Ulster University for my Product Design portfolio viewing; I was told it would be a shame to do anything other than product design based on the work I presented. This was the first time my efforts in design were fully recognised and I felt empowered as a young creative. I am now in my Year in Industry of Ulster University’s BDES (Hons) Product Design course. In my second year of study, I took part in a project in conjunction with a local start-up, See. Sense, a technology company with a love for

Why skill competencies are vital in the Innovation Era

cycling. The brief was to redesign their bicycle light, reducing cost and making it suitable for mass market. The project gave me a feel of working in industry. The projects were presented and I was lucky enough to win a MacBook and a placement with See.Sense. My first job was to redesign their existing packaging; six months later there are now 10,000 units of packaging that I designed going on shelves in retail outlets across the UK. I feel a huge sense of pride in my contribution to this product and grateful for the opportunity, which I may not have received if I had opted for a placement in a larger corporate. Working for a start-up allows me to be so much more than a product designer – I join engineering meetings, help out with marketing and often double up as a graphic designer, all of which allows me to gain a greater insight to the industry and build my own skill set. Working in this environment also helps me gain more exposure as a young designer, where my input is valued and my work is recognised.

The student finalists were: Evy: a smart bag that never lets you forget. Communication Innovation: a tidy up for phone cables. Headcase: an app to look at head injuries. KegoMatic: a keg changeover and management device. StringSense: a fast track guitar learning platform. Fetch: a catering app to slash queuing times at events. HurtLockers: an electronic first aid kit NeverLace: an effective magnetic shoelace buckle The student finalists were asked to pitch their innovative product to a group of 180 year 11 pupils and were judged by Tim Brundle, Director of Research and Impact at Ulster University and previous Invent Winners Michael Budden (Locate a Locum), Rachel Gawley (Appattic) and Leona McAlister (Plotbox). EVY won the ‘Pupil’s Choice’ award based on votes cast by pupils at the event. Evy was founded by QUB electrical engineering students Niamh Tohill, CEO, and Andrew Cunningham, COO.

The team behind Evy, Niamh Tohill and Andrew Cunningham Evy is a smart bag that allows you to track your items. Using inexpensive, disposable RFID stickers items are registered with the smart bag in a one-time process, using Evy’s accompanying app. You then tell the app which days of the week you need to pack those items. Your bag scans its contents and alerts you to the items you forgot. The app can also sync with events happening in your calendar, for instance, reminding you to pack your passport when you’re going to the airport. The overall Student Invent winner decided by the judging panel will be announced at the Invent 2017 awards night on Thursday, October 5, in the Waterfront Belfast. Following the pitches, the year 11 pupils also attended a number of innovative workshops facilitated by Ulster University. This showcased the exciting study options available at the university and inspired the young people to embrace innovative future careers.


8 | SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORKPLACE

Belfast Telegraph | September 19 2017

Re-thinking the schoolbag By Ailis Mone PwC Digital Consultant

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Y definition education means ‘to lead out’. It is not about lecturing and regurgitating facts, but about leading students down the path to lifelong learning. Giving students freedom in their exploration of ideas across the subject spectrum is the route to growth. But how can we achieve this in our education system? Since the world is in perpetual movement, the foundation of human learning must also be dynamic and fluid. Hence the best employers value precisely what makes us human – our ability to think critically, to empathise and to envision what does not yet exist i.e. to innovate. Education should be crafted to encourage and enhance these abilities while providing an environment where students are self-empowered to learn. It is for these reasons that PwC is pairing with Catalyst Inc through their Generation Innovation programme to illustrate to students what innovation looks like in real life, and how opportunities for innovating are all around us, even in something as mundane as a schoolbag. We are doing this through a series of 45 minute micro-workshops, introducing them to the concept of design thinking with the challenge to design the ideal schoolbag. The concept is pioneered by Stanford d. school. It enables the creative exploration of problems, without restrictions and can be applied to any problem. Most importantly, it puts the human at the centre of the process. This is why significant companies, such as global design company IDEO, have snapped up the concept and applied it to the way they work. “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” – Tim Brown, IDEO Design thinking encourages complete con-

Engineering at Magee

Shape your career with STEM courses at Ulster University

S sideration of the problem before jumping to solutions and provides a safe environment to experiment. The process can vary in application but its components follow these 5 steps:

CIENCE, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) graduates are amongst those with highest earning potential. Regardless of the STEM course undertaken, Ulster graduates are work-ready, with the knowledge, skills and entrepreneurial drive to compete professionally within these growth sectors. Northern Ireland’s digital, engineering, technological and construction expertise; young skilled workforce; geographical location; and academia and business partnerships, all prove to attract inward investment. Graduate opportunities are excellent. Employability is at the heart of the Ulster experience. Courses are professionally accredited; in line with industry needs.

COMPUTING In a world that is evolving at an unprecedented rate, students will need the skills to adapt and learn quickly above all else. We need to teach students how to learn. This is just one way to start the process. Education should be engineered to ignite the desire to learn throughout life.

Ulster’s computing courses reflect industry demand and cover a range of areas from software to IT. Technical degrees include Computer Engineering and Computer Science, whilst courses such as Computing Technologies bridge the gap between technical expertise, business needs and a digital society. For aspiring designers, degrees in Interactive Multimedia Design and Computer Games Devel-

opment, assimilate technology, design and human interaction. Postgraduate courses include Professional Software Development, for non-computing graduates, and a new course in Data Science for computing and engineering graduates. The university has invested £4m to support Northern Ireland as a global leader in data analytics.

ENGINEERING

The engineering sector is so diverse that it needs graduates from traditional disciplines such as civil, mechanical, electrical and electronic, mechatronic and advanced manufacturing, as well as modern disciplines such as biomedical engineering. Courses in Energy, Architectural Engineering and Renewable Energy Engineering equip graduates with the expertise to balance global demand with sustainability. The new BEng Hons Safety Engineering and Disaster Management course focuses on how engineers use intelligent and efficient design to prevent and respond to human and natural disasters. To find out more about these courses and many more, visit ulster.ac.uk/stem


10 | SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORK PLACE

PROFILE

PROFILE

Gregg McKeown, Engineering Manager CDEnviro

Conor Dickson,

Graduate Software Engineer Automated Intelligence Connor Dickson is a 23-year-old Graduate Software Engineer at Automated Intelligence, a software and services company based at Catalyst Inc in Belfast.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A TYPICAL WORKING DAY

AI helps organisations better manage and control the vast amount of data they hold and I work on developing different pieces of software to do this. My role is R&D so every day I am trying out new technologies to see if they can be used to improve our products or even create new products. I’d say my role is coming up with ideas, getting them up and running, seeing if they work and if so, developing them further!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EDUCATIONAL/ CAREER PATH TO THIS POST?

I was very lucky to get a summer placement with Automated Intelligence straight after refinishing my A ‘Levels. I had no previous experience and hadn’t even received my results but I was very willing to give up my summer and learn, so AI gave me the opportunity. I then got into Queen’s University to study a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science. I came back and did another summer placement with AI after my first year at uni, then did my one year placement here in third year. I rejoined as a Graduate Software Engineer in September 2017. My fourth time coming back!

Belfast Telegraph | September 19 2017

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A TYPICAL WORKING DAY.

My typical day varies greatly from working on strategic elements to getting fully involved in a current design challenges. On a daily basis, I am leading the design on live projects, involved in jobs we are tendering for and overseeing the innovation within the business.

WHAT ARE THE MOST VALUABLE SKILLS OR THE NECESSARY SKILLS FOR YOU IN YOUR ROLE?

Being logical, flexible and willing to learn. You also have to be humble. You cannot be defensive or annoyed if something doesn’t work out – because it won’t every time!

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?

Being given the chance to try new things. I’m working on software that government departments, health trusts and banks, for example, are now using and that feels very worthwhile. Plus the company culture is really cool – we have free breakfasts, free soft drinks, free chocolate and ‘Free Food Fridays’! You can’t beat that!

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANY YOUNG PERSON THINKING OF A CAREER IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

One of the best things I did was get that initial placement straight after school. I was able to prove myself and it meant I was able to do further placements with AI which really helped me through university. I would encourage others to do the same – give up your time, work hard, demonstrate you are keen and take everything in!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EDUCATIONAL/ CAREER PATH TO THIS POST?

I graduated from QUB Belfast with a 1st Class Masters in Mechanical Engineering starting with CDE Global as a Graduate Engineer. In just over three years I had progressed to Senior Design Engineer leading multiple +£1m design projects worldwide as well managing projects across Europe and USA. I was promoted to the position of Engineering Manager in CDEnviro – a new company started within CDE dedicated to the environmental sector. I currently manage a diverse team of 18 engineers across three departments.

WHAT ARE THE MOST VALUABLE SKILLS OR THE NECESSARY SKILLS FOR YOU IN YOUR ROLE?

Leadership – inspiring the team to fulfil their potential.

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?

Working for and being part of a company of strong and ambitious individuals – they truly believe in what they are doing day in day out and are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in our industry across the world. I am continually learning through solving the challenges we face.

CAN YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE FUTURE JOB PROSPECTS IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

Achieving zero waste is why we do what we do within CDEnviro something which is a massive focus worldwide so job prospects are excellent. Everyone now considers how we recycle in the home using our green and brown bins to prevent waste going to landfill – landfill diversion on a much larger scale is just one of the sectors we focus on!

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANY YOUNG PERSON THINKING OF A CAREER IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

Believe in yourself and your ability and embrace the old cliché to never stop learning. As a company our constant focus is creating new ways to turn today’s waste products into tomorrow’s assets and we do this by asking the difficult questions – something I believe we should be doing not only at a company level but also individually.


12 | SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORK PLACE

Belfast Telegraph | September 19 2017

‘Skills Barometer’ can help with career choices

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S the academic year gets into full swing, many of you will be thinking about the next steps in your education and career journey. Perhaps you’re considering the grades you need to achieve at GCSE or A level and the pathways that lie beyond. You may even be thinking about a promotion, or a career change and the skills you need to achieve that. Whatever your options, it is important to be aware of the skills and qualifications which will carry currency in the labour market of tomorrow. In recent years, the Department for the Economy has engaged with the Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre to produce the ‘Skills Barometer for Northern Ireland’. This innovative research provides a detailed analysis of the forecast demand for qualifications required in the labour market over the next ten years if Northern Ireland is to achieve its economic potential. The full report can be viewed on the Department’s website (www.economy-ni.gov.uk/ publications/ni-skills-barometer); I would encourage you to review its findings as an indispensable tool in informing the pivotal choices you are making about your education and career pathway. The labour market is changing fast. We know that the demand for higher level qualifications will continue to grow and that STEM subjects remain in high demand. We also know that employers have identified ‘employability skills’ as critically impor-

By Dr Mary McIvor,

Director of Strategic Policy, Department for the Economy tant in the recruitment process. Employability skills are required, in addition to subject specific knowledge, to be effective in the workplace. They focus on areas such as problem solving, critical thinking, team working, commercial awareness, professional attitude, people management and initiative. In Government, we are developing policy which responds to these demands as we seek to enhance our global competitiveness and build an economy that works for everyone. We recognise the importance of embedding work experience within the broad education offer as a key way of building employability skills in tandem with the development of technical knowledge and continue to work with industry to ensure as many students as possible have the opportunity to engage directly with employers. Our further education colleges sit alongside Northern Ireland’s higher education institutions as central to skills development in our economy. The evidence from the Skills Barometer is clear that if we are to maximise the potential of every individual in our society and the potential of our economy to grow, the professional and technical education delivered through our colleges is a vital

component in the skills offer. The development of the Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) programme has enabled us to provide new pathways to higher level professional and technical skills which will complement the world-class academic education on offer through our local universities. As we implement the HLA programme, it is important that we continue to challenge the cultural perception of apprenticeships. The very term ‘apprentice’ is surrounded by misconceptions. It is seen by some as being limited to trade and craft professions, low paid and with no prospect of professional development. Such opinions could not be further from the truth in the modern labour market. HLAs provide the opportunity to gain high level, in demand skills and qualifications in STEM subjects while developing those critical employability skills through working (and earning!) with an employer. The Department for the Economy and our government partners aim to provide a clear educational and careers pathway for all and I wish you every success with whatever path you choose to follow. The Department’s Careers Service can advise on STEM related employment, courses of study and qualifications required. For more information on how to contact them and speak to an adviser visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/ careers.


September 19 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORK PLACE | 13


14 | SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORK PLACE

PROFILE

PROFILE

Mark Maguire, Visual design and Innovation manager RPS Northern Ireland

Dr Grainne McQuaid, Civil Engineer RPS Northern Ireland CAN YOU DESCRIBE A TYPICAL WORKING DAY

As a Consultancy based Civil Engineer, the majority of my day is spent developing scheme designs, using a variety of software, and innovative tools including the use of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and drones. I work as part of a design team with a wide area of expertise including highway, transport, geotechnical, project management and structural.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE A TYPICAL WORKING DAY.

My day is split between pushing the latest technology in VR and AR to its limits and completing the visualisation for all the current projects in the office in animation and still format.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EDUCATIONAL/ CAREER PATH TO THIS POST?

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EDUCATIONAL/ CAREER PATH TO THIS POST?

I trained as an Architect with a post-grad in Advanced Architectural Design but went into architectural and engineering visualisation in 1995. I became the Head of Design for a computer games company before there were registered courses for that discipline, completing several racing games for Michael Schumacher. I spent 21 years working in the visualization industry in Asia where I owned my own animation company for over 10 years.

WHAT ARE THE MOST VALUABLE SKILLS OR THE NECESSARY SKILLS FOR YOU IN YOUR ROLE?

Imagination and 3d spatial awareness is needed. Also as we are testing a lot of new technology and software – a lot of experimentation and patience is needed. I take a lot of photos – to replicate textures and particular lighting conditions.

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?

Seeing a client’s reaction as they walk through a project in VR before it’s been built. Whether it is a hospital or a house extension, I love taking a design from the drawing board to a photorealistic environment that you can walk through.

Belfast Telegraph | September 19 2017

Having completed STEM based A-levels at Mount Lourdes, Enniskillen, I carried out a Civil Engineering BEng in QUB. I continued to complete a PhD, focusing on the use of innovative 3D modelling techniques in Highway Engineering at UU, which lead perfectly into my position at RPS Belfast – Highways & Transportation division.

CAN YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE FUTURE JOB PROSPECTS IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

The future of AR is bright – in the construction industry and the entertainment business. With the advancement of the integration of digital information with live video and the user’s environment in real time brings infinite possibilities.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANY YOUNG PERSON THINKING OF A CAREER IN YOUR INDUSTRY? If I am employing anyone – I look for enthusiasm in visualisation and technology and a good portfolio of experimental spaces.

WHAT ARE THE MOST VALUABLE SKILLS OR THE NECESSARY SKILLS FOR YOU IN YOUR ROLE?

To be innovative and resourceful. Industry now needs to do more with less. Engineers need to be more innovative and embrace digital technologies which can advance our capabilities. The ability to design schemes digitally in 2D and 3D is key to progressing projects.

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?

Resolving a problem with an innovative solution and seeing it constructed on site. Within our workplace we are aware we don’t need to do something the same way it has always been done. We are encouraged to explore innovative routes to reach the best solution for our clients.

CAN YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE FUTURE JOB PROSPECTS IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

There is a growing skill shortage within Civil Engineering so future job prospects are excellent. The profession is open to all kinds of people, from all backgrounds and offers a variety of access routes. Apprenticeship schemes particularly offer prospects to those who want to work whilst studying towards qualification.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANY YOUNG PERSON THINKING OF A CAREER IN YOUR INDUSTRY? Research the career and access routes. There really is something for everyone. Civil Engineering covers a wide range of disciplines and as an internationally recognised career it can carry you anywhere in the world you would like to go.


September 19 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE WORK PLACE | 15

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ELFAST Met continues to be at the forefront of course provision in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) related subjects and is delighted to have just been awarded prestigious STEM assured status from the STEM Foundation. Director of Curriculum at Belfast Met, Dr Jonathan Heggarty said: “We are extremely proud to be recognised for our STEM provision as it demonstrates our efforts to align our curriculum with industry demand and our commitment to excellence in STEM teaching.” Dr Heggarty added: “These subjects have been declared priority skills areas by the government and crucial to the economy. “There is an abundance of jobs in these areas and they happen to boast a higher than average salary as well as strong chances of career progression in an exciting and dynamic environment. “Those who go into STEM related careers will benefit from opportunities to quickly climb the job ladder. Someone who enters into a career in IT for example will earn a 61% higher salary than in other industries.” In order to help increase competitiveness and boost the NI economy and meet this urgent industry demand, Belfast Met is dedicated to providing top class training in these areas and boast teaching staff that all have a vast amount of valuable experience in the industry themselves. If pure study does not appeal, many of Belfast Met’s STEM subjects can also be adapted to the apprenticeship route where students can ‘earn while they learn’ and gain valuable real life experience in the workplace while getting their qualification. So, to stimulate the imagination about where your study path could lead, here are some of our top STEM specialisms at Belfast Met: ◊ Software engineering ◊ IT and cyber security ◊ Games development, design and animation ◊ Creative media production ◊ Applied science ◊ Animal management ◊ Dental nursing ◊ Aeronautical, construction, manufacturing, architectural and civil engineering

SRC’s engineering award winners

Study STEM at SRC

I An astronomical day: Keynote speaker Jocelyn Bell Burnell, former Belfast Met Engineering student Rachel Gregg, Head of the Department for Science, Engineering and Construction Chris Corken and Electronics student Nicole Catney at the college’s Women into STEM event

A top job and excellent salary will ‘STEM’ from study at Belfast Met TECHNICAL CAREERS FAIR

The Institute of Physics and Belfast Metropolitan College are hosting their inaugural Technical Careers Fair on October 6. This fair is open to GCSE and A-Level students who are interested in physics, but are unclear of the career options available to them if they want to pursue an alternative route. The speakers at the event will include an apprentice, a training provider, an employer and

a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. Confirmed exhibitors include Aecom, Atkins, AWE, CERN, Emergency Fire, Royal Airforce, Royal Navy & Marine, STEMnet, Thales. The day includes plenty of opportunities to talk on a one-to-one basis to employers. Registration is now open at www.iopconferences.org/iop/1139/home Find out more at www.belfastmet.ac.uk

F you have just received your results and are unsure what to do next, why not consider a STEM career? As Northern Ireland’s best performing college, Southern Regional College offers many Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related courses for you to consider. You can choose subjects from A Level Chemistry to the Foundation Degree in Computing, Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering to the Foundation Degree in Applied and Medical Science. The lecturers at SRC have a great wealth of experience and knowledge that will open up a world of job opportunities and right now, there is demand for people who have high level STEM skills. SRC students have recently demonstrated their high level STEM skills at this year’s BEST awards. Ronan McGibbon, Paul Lyons, Joseph Murnion and Ryan Wilson who study HND Engineering at SRC Newry Campus won the Engineering Award with their ‘3R Mobility Chair’. Their concept was an intelligent chair to encourage muscle movement and improve well-being of clients in residential care homes and other care and rehabilitation settings. For further information on all STEM courses available at Southern Regional College, please call into any of our campuses, visit our website www.src.ac.uk or telephone 0300 123 1223.


Stem 2017  

Skills for the Future Workplace, STEM courses and Careers