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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre & STEM Ambassadors's online course, Inspiring Young People in STEM: Resources for Activities and Promoting Diversity. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Why do we need volunteers involved in STEM activities with young people and what is known about their impact? In 2015, the UK Commission for Employment & Skills stated that ‘’The UK’s economic future lies in high value, innovative and knowledge-intensive activities. To pursue this course, a highly skilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce is essential’’. The report then provided evidence that this goal is hampered by skills shortages. One indication of this is that 43% of STEM vacancies are hard to fill due to a lack of qualified candidates compared with the average of 24%. Skills shortages are most significant amongst engineering professionals, followed by IT professionals and then science, engineering and production technicians.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds Having a gender balance is a particular issue in some STEM sectors with females representing 9% of Engineers in the UK compared to 20% as the EU average. However, academic attainment by girls at school in STEM subjects is equal and sometimes higher than boys. So how might you help address these issues? We know that STEM Ambassadors make an impact. Independent evaluation and feedback in 2016 demonstrated that STEM Ambassadors inspire young people to better engage with, and continue to study STEM subjects and explore STEM careers. They also enhance the quality of teaching by bringing learning from business and industry into the classroom, enriching teaching and learning with current and cutting-edge STEM contexts.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 seconds STEM Ambassadors also have a positive impact on their own organisations, bringing back new skills and experiences. Whether you are a STEM Ambassador or working elsewhere in the voluntary sector, by developing your effectiveness as a volunteer, you can make a significant impact both in your own profession and on the aspirations of young people.

The impact you could make

We really want you to appreciate the value volunteers can bring and to get you thinking about what you could offer as a volunteer. In this video we look at the reasons why volunteering is so important for STEM subjects.

Volunteering in STEM

The 2015 UKCES report on the STEM workforce highlights the shortage of people going into STEM careers. In some contexts, young people are entering STEM careers without the right level of technical skill and understanding. Within your workplace, are you experiencing these challenges?

In the UK, STEM Ambassadors are people from industry and business who run activities in schools and community groups, helping young people become more aware of opportunities through studying STEM subjects and possible STEM careers. We know that volunteers, such as STEM Ambassadors, with the right skills, can make a real impact in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.


Continuing to think about your background and what you could share with young people, we’d like to hear about your job and career.

What contributed to your interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics growing up? Who or what influenced you to study STEM subjects or go into a STEM career?

In the next step, we look at ways to relate STEM experiences to young people from a range of backgrounds.

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This video is from the free online course:

Inspiring Young People in STEM: Resources for Activities and Promoting Diversity

National STEM Learning Centre