Viewpoint: Inspiring STEM students to close the skills gap
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency indicate the number of postgraduate and undergraduate students opting for a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field has seen just a modest rise in recent years.
Are organisations in STEM industries doing enough to support prospective students of all age ranges, backgrounds and genders? Mary Hunter, Managing Director of leading digital business services provider Columbus UK, discusses the need to nurture the next generation of STEM students to help address the skilled workforce shortage - and how community outreach programmes can play a key role.
The UK currently draws heavily on overseas talent in technical industries, yet a critical shortage of skilled workers remains. Surveys from late 2017 indicate 75% of businesses in the manufacturing sector struggled to recruit suitably qualified employees for skilled positions, and this issue is set to have a knock-on effect for the growth and order prospects of many manufacturers.
Bridging the talent gap
There is a clear need to address the problem at source. The number of postgraduate and undergraduate students may be increasing year-on-year, but if children are not engaged and inspired from an early age to pursue scientific and technical interests as a prospective career path, the skills shortage could rise further. We need to nurture the next generation of STEM students from an early age.
- Carrefour's digitisation continues with acquisition of majority stake in Quitoque
- Microsoft to build new Europe data centres and expand cloud offering
- OUT NOW! Business Chief, Europe edition - March issue
Close collaboration between industry, the education system and even government could hold the answer. Businesses have the skills, resources and role models to engage with children, and in turn grow the future UK talent pool of skilled workers. By investing in the next generation, it will be these businesses who reap the rewards in turn.
Teaching STEM – it’s never too early but it can be late
It is commonplace for many organizations operating within skilled industries to offer apprenticeships as an avenue for on-the-job industry training and building up transferable technical skills. But with most apprentices already of school leaving age, the question must be asked - are we doing enough to encourage children into STEM fields from an early age?
Code Clubs – a starter for 10 that businesses should build on
The recent introduction of Code Clubs and similar extracurricular activities at primary schools across the UK provide an early opportunity to open a route to explore technical fields, and continue to feed that ambition and interest with like-minded individuals, regardless of background. Businesses can play a central role in these activities by investing technology, funding and spare time to supply, teach and speak to students.
Equally important is the need to maintain these activities throughout the education system. Interest can be lost very easily, but by building a framework of knowledge and skills at an early age, offering practical experience outside of a classroom setting and providing assistance to help students transition from education into the workforce, this can be avoided.
Small investment, large reward
Businesses can spark an interest in these fields from an early age. That's why this week Columbus invited a class of 10 and 11-year-olds from Holy Cross school in Hucknall to join us at our Nottingham offices for a morning of educational sessions about our industry.
We are lucky enough to be able to work with some of our customers such as Weetabix – a household name among children – and we've been able to engage with children on the subject of STEM disciplines, in a way designed to both excite and inspire. Instead of discussing software development through slideshows, Columbus experts were able to walk a class through the journey of a staple food of UK households "from field to spoon".
We already have an established relationship with Holy Cross, having donated laptops to the school to help children with their development of ever-important technology skills from an early age. We're actively looking to take this engagement with the local community to the next level – and would encourage other businesses to follow this lead.
NetNumber: Time for a cloud-native transformation
NetNumber is accelerating the transition in the telecom industry to 5G as it starts a shift to cloud-native architecture to address the fast-paced demands of global subscribers and businesses.
NetNumber is offering the industry’s first cloud-native platform designed to ensure InterGENerational™ network performance addresses both the legacy and next-generation requirements of telecom networks.
“NetNumber has developed the industry’s most robust cloud-native, InterGENerational platform that addresses both the legacy and 5G requirements of telcos,” said Matt Rosenberg, Chief Revenue Officer of NetNumber.
The platform provides vertical and horizontal scale-out with low latency, coupled with a suite of data replication capabilities, which provide flexible architectural options that can evolve with the changing network over time.
“Cloud-based solutions from other vendors tend to be limited in terms of supporting particular network generations or protocols. We’ve created our latest platform TITAN.IUM to allow customers to take any generation of applications, any generation of legacy services and protocols and move them into the new world of cloud-native architecture,” said Rosenberg.
“This is a really important part for a carrier to harmonise their network, bring data services together, bring legacy with new together in order to make a more effective and efficient network, as well as reduce their cost as they scale forward,” he said.
Established in 1999, NetNumber has fostered a strong team environment that leverages the industry’s best skills to offer software solutions tailored for carriers of all dimensions. Based outside of Boston and with presence in over 20 countries, the company delivers a range of products that address all generations (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) of network functions in the core network, deep rooted security products and services, STIR/ SHAKEN and set of options around data services in more than 90 countries.
Steeped in experience in building telecom solutions, software, protocol stacks, and integration of third party tools, the company’s development organisation has proven to supply to the industry with the most reliable and flexible solutions on the market.
“At NetNumber, we focus on our core competencies – we are dedicated to providing industry expertise in signaling, routing, security, subscriber management and data services. We provide customers a strong ROI through platform-based solutions that reduce Capex and Opex in the long-term,” commented Rosenberg.
Five reasons why customers choose NetNumber:
- Expertise - NetNumber has experts with deep knowledge in signaling/routing, security, and subscriber database management.
- Integration - An industry-first platform brings together domain services, applications, security, and global data services.
- Scale - NetNumber has the ability to seamlessly increase network efficiency using vertical and horizontal scaling.
- Speed - World-class solutions have the power to help companies create new service offerings and accelerate time to ROI.
- Savings - Customers enjoy significant savings in capex and opex, flexible deployment models, and investment protection.
NetNumber and Virgin Mobile MEA
“We're very proud of our partnership with Virgin Mobile MEA as they've taken the concept of the InterGENerational platform into their regional network strategy,” commented Rosenberg. “That’s accelerated how they develop exceptional services across the Middle East and Africa region.
“We work with them hand-in-hand to deliver multiple applications onto our platform which has enabled them to provide exceptional, advanced and innovative services to their customers across the Middle East, who demand high quality services.
“What they've really taken advantage of is scale. What I mean by that is they are putting multiple generations of applications and services onto the same platform and distributing that data across their network. That has resulted in an advantageous position of time to market and operational savings.
“Rather than having different applications for many different vendors that cause operational chaos, they've been able to consolidate that and reduce their operating costs by having everything on one common architecture. We’ve had a long-term relationship with Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia, and recently signed an agreement with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait.”
Rosenberg says that with these solutions, Virgin Mobile MEA can take advantage of getting to the market much quicker and faster—which is what today’s discerning customer demands.