How many times do you remember being asked that question at school. Each time, you probably gave a different answer: aged five, 10, 15 and probably again at 20!
Maybe it used to be astronaut, or cowboy. Maybe it used to be doctor and then fireman. For me it was always a veterinarian.
Did you ever think that you would be doing the role you are in today? Have you ever stopped and tracked your working life back to school, see where on the map the decisions were made that led you to where you are today? Do you remember who influenced you, guided you or made you think about the future?
Now, more than ever, questions like these will help us rebuild the future of our community as we persevere through a pandemic, the like of which never experienced in any of our current living generations.
I put it to you that this question we have become so ingrained in asking (in its current format) hinders the possibility of aspiration.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Why? Read it out loud… hear it yet? We are asking a question that limits an answer!
By asking a young person (or an adult for that matter) what they want to be is asking them to choose from a list of jobs/careers they know exist today in their current format.
How is it fuelling the engine of our economy by asking such as closed question? Asking that our young people choose from careers they have no knowledge of and/or minimal exposure to. We should be asking, What would you like to do?
Let’s break it down
What would (open ended request to think laterally) you like (I’m asking about something you have an interest or passion in now) to do? (It doesn’t have to be from a list of existing roles in formats you know)
Numerous times I have put this theory into action with young people. When I ask them what they want to be and why – they cannot explain their choice, the answer is generic and almost automatic.
When I ask them, what would like to do many will pause, think and answer. Not only can many young people explain their answer articulately, but they also can give a great explanation as to why (which generally leaves parents and teachers speechless)
As the STEM Education Manager at RS Components, my job is to help inspire the next generation to consider a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) based careers. By inspiring young people and their influencers today to think about their potential in the future. This is not only extremely important but very rewarding.
Since 1937, RS has grown to support every kind of engineer around the world, who work in various sectors and industries. Today RS is recognised around the world in 32 countries and is listed as a FTSE250 business (Electrocomponents Plc)
More inspiration please
In 2016, the Royal Academy of Engineering identified, from a detailed mapping of the STEM Education landscape in the UK, that there are over 600 organisations and businesses that are supporting engineering education.
In 2018, it was reported by the Office of National Statistics for EngineeringUK that just over a quarter of the 2.55 million (687,575) registered enterprises in the UK were in the engineering sector.
Shocking statistics when you line them up like this, unfortunately the numbers don’t seem to change.
So how can you help a young person understand what it is you do in a way that excites them?
You don’t have to be a STEM organisation or business to inspire the next generation – everyone has the ability to help inspire a young person to find out more about the working world, how roles and technology have evolved and encourage them to think about how these roles will evolve in the future.
Some of the roles we predict could change in the future include Drone Manager, Space Tourism Guide, Self-Driving Car Mechanic and Climate Change Reversal Specialist. How many do you think could come true?
Today and tomorrow
I joined RS Components in December 2017 with two main projects: to develop and manage the STEM Ambassador Network to support primary and secondary schools in the UK and manage our innovation truck, Titan II.
Today I work within the Grassroots Education team and my projects have extended to: the development of content-rich and curriculum-aligned lesson plans; development and deployment of fun, exciting and educational STEM workshops; collaborating with partners; supporting education visits with Titan II; and the continual management and development of the STEM Ambassador network.
The Grassroots Education team is a collection of passionate, youth empowering people, all of whom have one goal – to inspire and support the next generation around the world. The team is able to support the entire life cycle (from six to 30 years) of any young person in education as they journey into the world of work
To find out more about RS Components Grassroots Education team and to access free-to-use teaching materials, that can be used at home and in school, visit uk.rs-online.com/STEM or email firstname.lastname@example.org