STEM Careers

Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM)

Study of STEM subjects opens doors to a range of exciting jobs, from the most complex research and development and leadership positions to production, repair, marketing, sales and other jobs that require varying levels of knowledge of science or technology.

STEM workers are driving Ireland's innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies, new industries and attracting multinational investment. This is also part of a global trend. According to the European Commission, demand for STEM professionals and associate professionals is expected to grow by around 8% between now and 2025, much higher than the average 3% growth forecast for all occupations. Employment in STEM-related sectors is also expected to rise by around 6.5% between now and 2025. Research shows that there is clear need to do more to inspire young people to study STEM subjects in order to take advantage of job opportunities in these fields.  The future success of the Ireland’s economy will require increased numbers of skilled workers with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications.

A few years ago Government asked the Research Prioritisation Group to identify a number of priority areas around which future investment in publicly performed research should be based.

This provides a useful map to where the STEM-related jobs of the future should be:

* Future Networks & Communications

* Food for Health

* Sustainable Food Production and Processing

* Data Analytics Management, Security & Privacy

* Digital Platforms, Content & Applications

* Marine Renewable Energy

* Connected Health & Independent Living

* Smart Grids & Smart Cities

* Medical Devices

* Manufacturing Competitiveness

* Diagnostics

* Processing Technologies and Novel Materials

* Therapeutics - synthesis formulation, processing and drug delivery

* Innovation in Services and Business Processes

Smart Futures

Smart Futures is a collaborative government-industry programme promoting science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers to students in Ireland, highlighting opportunities in sectors such as pharma chemical, medical devices, information and communications technology (ICT) and energy.

This website aims to provides resources to students, teachers, guidance counsellors and parents, in order to stimulate an interest in STEM subjects in secondary school and at third level.

Smart Futures is coordinated and managed by SFI Discover, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded STEM outreach programme. It was established in partnership with Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme in 2012 and is supported by organisations such as PharmaChem Ireland, the Royal Society of Chemistry, ICT Ireland, the Irish Medical Devices Association (IMDA), the Institute of Physics and others.

Events and initiatives in the Smart Futures series include:

Free school visits by science researchers and engineers

The Smart futures Transition Year Work Experience Programme

The Smart Futures Video Stories

It is hoped, that by building awareness of the diverse and exciting careers in the STEM sector, that a greater number of students will consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths courses at third level. Parents are encouraged to get advice from Smart Futures in order to help support their children in making CAO and career decisions. Women have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields for a complex variety of reasons. Smart Futures also aims to inspire girls to discover a passion for technology, science and engineering and maths.

The SFI Discover Programme

The SFI Programme formerly known as Discover Science and Engineering (DSE) is Ireland’s national science awareness programme, set up in 2003 to promote an awareness and understanding of the importance of science and engineering technology and maths in a modern knowledge-based economy. The raison d’être of SFI is to develop more effective ways of engaging students, teachers and the public in science, technology and innovation (STI).

DSE’s overall objectives are:

SFI Discover owes its origin to two concerns. The first is the ability of Ireland’s education system to supply the number of qualified scientists and engineers needed to maintain the growth of Ireland’s high- technology sectors; the second is the widespread lack of appreciation of the fundamental role played by science and engineering in Ireland’s modern economy. SFI Discover aims to contribute to Ireland’s growth and development as a knowledge-based economy helping to keep Ireland among the world’s most competitive economies.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI ), the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research is responsible for managing and coordinating the SFI Discover Programme.


Engineers Ireland STEPS is a not-for-profit strategic outreach programme that promotes engineering as a future career to young people.  It encourages and educates the future generations of engineers by:

  • Introducing engineering to young people.
  • Supporting community leaders and influencers to communicate diverse opportunities in engineering.
  • Inspiring transition year students to study engineering.
  • Motivating engineers and industry to engage with school pupils.

Establised in 2000, Engineers Ireland STEPS is a multi-event programme including:

  • Engineers Week
  • Engineering your Future
  • Young Engineers Award
  • Girl Guides engineering badge

STEM: Where the jobs are:

1.  Information & Communications Technology (ICT)

Since 2011, over 15,000 jobs announced - over 80 per week.

All of the top 10 multinational technology companies have a significant presence in Ireland.

Five of the top 10 exporters in Ireland are technology companies.

Ireland is first in the Eurozone for ease of doing business, and first for availability of skilled labour, but there is a skills demand which needs to be addressed.

By 2015, it is estimated that there will be a shortage of up to 864,000 ICT professionals across the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA).

Ireland is likely to face an average increase in demand for high-level ICT skills of around 5pc a year up to 2018, with the employment of ICT professionals anticipated to rise to over 91,000.

44,500 potential job openings for ICT professionals are forecast over the period 2013 to 2018, when employment of ICT professionals is anticipated to rise to just over 91,000.

• Big data and analytics is a relatively new area of business activity characterised by rapid growth.

• Government's policy into the medium-term is for Ireland to become a leading country in Europe for big data and analytics .

2.  Medical Devices

250 medtech companies in Ireland - over half of which are indigenous.

€8bn annual Irish medtech exports.

25,000 people employed in medtech industry, the highest number in any country in Europe, per head of population.

11 of the world's top 13 medical technology companies have invested significantly in Ireland.

3.  Pharma Chemical

Ireland is one of the premier global locations for pharmaceutical and chemical product manufacture and the pharma sector has contributed significantly to Ireland's economic development.

Eight of the top-ten global pharmaceutical companies have a facility in Ireland, benefiting from a highly skilled workforce, a proven level of manufacturing and compliance and easy access to the European market.

CSO figures show the sector exported products worth €55.1billion representing over 50pc of total national exports.

The sector employs over 50,000 people directly and indirectly, 50% of whom hold a third-level qualification.

4.  Agri- food

230,000 jobs linked to agri-food.

Exports exceeded €9bn in 2013, two thirds of these from Irish-owned companies.

Total payroll in the sector is €1.74bn - more than any other manufacturing sector.

€8bn worth of materials purchased - 75pc are sourced in Ireland.

€3.5bn worth of services purchased, almost half are sourced in Ireland.

Innovation is one of the three pillars (Smart, Green, Growth) of the national agri-food strategy Food Harvest 2020, which aims to create 30,000 new jobs.


Source: Irish Independent: Tuesday 10 March 2015.


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