Engineers Ireland has this morning welcomed the continued growth in the number of students sitting the higher-level Leaving Certificate mathematics paper. Results obtained from the State Examinations Commission has shown that 18,153 students sat the paper this year, an increase of 8% on 2018.
The take-up of higher-level maths continues to go from strength to strength with the number of students taking this paper more than doubling since 2011. 10,000 more students now sit the paper than eight years ago.
The representative body for engineers, whose membership represents the full spectrum of the engineering profession in Ireland, has also highlighted that the number of students sitting STEM (i.e. science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects (based on 11 subject areas)* has also increased by 5%, to more than 88,000 papers.
Strong increases were observed in the number of students taking higher level subjects related to engineering and construction, including mathematics (+1316), construction studies (+791), physics (+325) and technology (+255).
Commenting on today’s Leaving Certificate STEM results, Chartered Engineer and Engineers Ireland Registrar, Damien Owens, said: “The ability to understand and work with maths and science subjects is invaluable for future engineers. Knowledge of these subjects is vital to understanding and addressing global challenges, such as climate action and informing public decision-making in our democracy.
“As a small island nation, we are dependent on the quality and quantity of our STEM graduates and it’s very positive to see this increased interest in STEM at 2nd level. In order to build on this interest, it is incumbent now on all of us – teachers, policymakers, parents and industry – to play our part in building further awareness of the exciting world of STEM at both primary and secondary level to meet the needs of society and industry,” Mr Owens added.
According to findings from Engineers Ireland’s Engineering 2019 report, Ireland is currently facing an acute shortage of skilled professionals that could threaten the supply of new infrastructure and technology, potentially undermining future prosperity, sustainability and wellbeing. Currently, over 94% of engineering employers in Ireland are reporting skills shortages as the main barrier to growth within the engineering sector.
Encouraging future Leaving Certificate students to focus on STEM and to consider a career in engineering, Mr Owens concluded: “In Engineers Ireland, we recognise our future engineering innovators who aspire to solve global issues may not even be in the engineering field yet – they may be just starting out their education journey in our primary and secondary schools.
“Through our STEPS Programme – funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme Call, and supported by industry leaders Arup, Intel, TII and ESB – we have developed a number of hands-on workshops and programmes that aim to spark children’s imaginations about STEM and provide them with role models and real-world opportunities to engage with the engineering community. Our aim is to encourage more students, particularly young females, to pursue engineering at third-level because Ireland and the world needs more engineers.”