It’s that time of year again.
The first of February marks the deadline for CAO applications (at least for the ‘normal’ applications; late application is still allowed up until the first of May) and lots of leaving cert students are making important decisions about what they’ll study at third level.
Having attended a good number of recruitment fairs and college open-days in my time, ‘ll give the same advice here as I do in person – choose to study what you enjoy!
It makes sense that, broadly speaking, if you enjoy a subject – be it maths, English, engineering, music, etc.- chances are, you’ll do better at it than if you are being dragged, kicking and screaming. So, the first thing to think about is what do you enjoy doing? What area could you see yourself spending three or four years (or more!) learning about?
As a scientist, I’d always encourage people to look at the science and technology courses on offer. Not least, because as well as being wonderful areas to spend time learning about, there are very good longterm job prospects in these areas.
For instance, the head of Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has said that students filling in their CAO forms in the next few days should focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Highlighting an expectation for foreign companies in Ireland to increase employment shortly, Barry O’Leary, CEO of the IDA, said “Students planning now for their future careers need to take this growth into account and consider in which sectors the greatest FDI job opportunities will be in the coming years.”
The IDA point to the 13,000 new jobs which have come onstream this year from foreign companies and say that nearly half of them plan to increase employment levels in the next tweleve months. As well as STEM qualifications, Brendan McDonagh of the IDA also encouraged students to look a languages as a growth area.
As parents, teachers and peers we should be encouraging young people to get into science. It will do the whole country good in the long run, to have a young, scientifically-literate workforce who can be at the cutting edge of scientific and technological advancement.
For that reason, initiatives that encourage participation in science at all ages and levels are to be welcomed. The success of the recent BT Young Scientist Exhibition is great to see and this week saw the launch of Dublin City of Science 2012 – an innovative science themed festival running throughout the year.
Despite the name, many of the events will take place at a national level so there should be something for everyone. Highlights already announced include:
- The prestigious ESOF 2012 conference in July which will see over 5,000 scientists gathering in Dublin.
- Exhibitions at the Science Gallery including Happy? – exploring the factors that shape happiness.
- Theatrical events including Rough Magic’s hilarious and uplifting ‘Improbable Frequency’. I was lucky enough to see this in the Opera House a few years ago and it was very enjoyable – featuring characters such as John Betjeman, Flann O’Brien and Erwin Schrödinger. The final performance will be streamed live on the web.
- Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day festival will see a science-themed parade and a treasure hunt with science related costumes!
There will be loads more events launched throughout the year so keep an eye on www.dublinscience2012.ie