What can you do?

Is your child creative, curious, someone who loves solving problems or is good with words?  If so, a career in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) might be for them!

Helping your teenager choose third level study options is never easy – there are a vast number of options to explore and if you’re not familiar with science, technology, engineering or maths subjects or careers, it can be very overwhelming.  Many of the careers that students are considering today, didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Smart Futures is here to help.  We have information that will help you navigate STEM subjects, choices and careers.

Don’t be put off if you’re not an expert on STEM.  Did you know that sometimes parents can pass on their own negative perceptions about science and maths as being too difficult or unsuitable, out of a fear of the unknown?

There can be many misconceptions about STEM related courses and subjects, and the people that work in these roles. Breaking down these barriers can be a challenge, but it can be achieved through encouragement. Encouragement to explore websites such as Smart Futures can be a really simple way of challenging some of the stereotypes that exist around STEM – you can find people in STEM careers that are into sports, that did pass level maths for the Leaving Cert and much more.

STEM is more than a list of subjects – it’s about learning new ways to think and creatively finding solutions to problems.

STEM discoveries and careers play a central role in meeting Ireland’s economic success and our society’s needs.  In a rapidly changing world, developing STEM skills and having the tools to be the creators of tomorrow, is an important step towards preparing our children for jobs that don’t even exist yet.

With STEM career prospects in an increasing number of diverse positions and sectors, there are numerous opportunities opening up for Irish students.  STEM graduates can command attractive salaries, benefits and travel opportunities.

Does the student in your life think that STEM subjects are more difficult than other subjects or that they’re boring or irrelevant?  Maybe they think that it’s just for boys?

Nothing could be further from the truth.  STEM subjects allow students to come up with creative and innovative solutions to real world problems, making the subject easier to relate to, inspiring and motivating them to go further.

Before encouraging a teenager to consider a STEM career, it is important to know what is available to them. There is much more available than being a scientist or an engineer – you can find out about them here.

A survey by recruitment firm that looked at the industry with the most jobs available found that the top nine positions were held by firms in the STEM industry.

Employment in STEM occupations is predicted to grow almost two times faster than the average for other occupations.

The huge number of available jobs in Ireland means that there are opportunities like never before for anyone with an interest in STEM.  With many of the top ten technology, pharmaceutical, medical devices and financial services companies in the world located here, STEM graduates in Ireland have a host of industries and sectors open to them. Not only are there ample STEM jobs in Ireland, there are huge opportunities across the globe.

You can see what it’s like to work in STEM and find some more information from the links below

Science| Technology  | Engineering | Maths

  • Problem solving: Being able to identify problems, design studies to gather data, collect and organise data, draw conclusions and apply what they have learned to novel situations.
  • Innovation: Recognising challenges or gaps in the market, then creatively designing, testing and implementing solutions to solve them.
  • Self-reliance and independent thinking: Being able to use initiatives and self-motivation to work alone, develop and gain self-confidence, and work within a time limit.
  • Logical thinking: Being able to apply the rational thought processes of design to innovation and invention.
  • Technological literacy: Understanding and explaining the nature of technology, developing the skills they need and applying technology appropriately.

Not only are these skills central to STEM careers but they are also relevant to non-STEM careers.  Developing these skills in school or in third level education is beneficial to those that may not end up in a STEM career.

SciFest, BT Young Scientist and Science Week are some of the extracurricular events that young people can get involved with that can open their eyes to the wonders of STEM. For young women who are interested in STEM, hosts a conference and interactive exhibitions aimed to inspire, encourage and motivate young female students.  I Wish features a conference and interactive exhibitions.

By getting more involved with your child’s studies, it will allow you to better understand their development and also identify what STEM careers may be best suited to them.

Ensure that they are attending as many third level open days as possible to give them a real understanding of what each university and institute has to offer.

Taking simple measures can give your child the greatest chance of success. Visit our Explore and Discover page to find out more about how you can get involved.

For information on college courses, sites such as and are important websites to be familiar with for choosing courses. CareersPortal have a brilliant CourseFinder which allows students to check out all options: apprenticeships, level 4, level 5, level 6, level 7 and level 8 courses and compare and contrast results from the same page.

As third level is not the only avenue to a STEM career, you should also explore alternative entry routes such as PLC courses and apprenticeships. 

Parents and guardians have a big influence on the choices students make when choosing a study or career path.

By encouraging your teenager to get involved and experience STEM, they can access many opportunities they might otherwise miss.

Studying STEM subjects at school or after school is a really good basis for other careers.  Some graduates don’t always stay in STEM careers but find their STEM training helps them in lots of ways

Check out our Parents guide below!

Our parents guide provides you with some advice for when you’re speaking with your child about their interest in STEM.

Download the full guide from this link.

Check out our Video

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