The second annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Conference and Career Expo will aim to address a shortage of technically skilled STEM graduates in South Africa.
The conference will be held at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on July 27 and 28. STEM Conference and Career Expo CEO Eric Wright says the event is rooted in the realisation that there is a dire need to promote STEM education in the country.
Last year’s inaugural conference formed part of the Africa MBA Indaba. At the Indaba, universities that participated noticed a lack of education and interest in the STEM fields in South Africa, as well as a gap between graduates with STEM degrees and corporate companies that want to hire them.
“After this insight and the realisation of the impact that the STEM conference can have on students and graduates lacking technical skills, we decided to make the STEM Conference and Career Expo a much bigger event.”
Wright mentions that about 1 500 attendees are expected at this year’s conference.
On the first day, there will be a programme for high school students designed to help them prepare for university. Specialised information technology (IT) services and solutions provider Adapt IT has sponsored the free coding class for high school students to introduce the different careers students can pursue in technology. The high school students will also have the opportunity to engage with university students and graduates who have studied STEM degrees. This session is designed to give high school students a better understanding of what to expect at university when studying STEM-related subjects.
The second day will focus on other topics that aim to empower the youth such as Young Entrepreneurship, a panel held by people who became successful at a young age. The panel aims to allow students to discuss career opportunities or ideas with successful people who are similar in age. Other topics will be focused on teaching graduates how to manage their finances.
In addition, topics such as Women in STEM and Women in IT, will also be discussed to highlight the challenges women in STEM face, from university to the workplace. There will also be topics that are more technology focused such as artificial intelligence, automation and the future of gaming.
“These kinds of topics can get our youth excited about technology advancement and career opportunities that have emerged because of it,” avers Wright.
For graduates, there will be a human resources speed-dating session – a five-minute one- on-one interview with recruiters from participating companies.
Wright believes that the event will educate and encourage high school students about the different career paths in STEM fields, and provide university graduates with tools they can use to help them start their careers as STEM professionals.
“Ultimately, we hope to get our youth educated, interested and excited about studying and pursuing careers in STEM,” he concludes.