The science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Career Expo will provide school-goers, undergraduates and graduates with the opportunity to interact directly with companies to determine the careers available to those interested in STEM, says STEM Career Expo CEO Eric Wright.
The companies participating, which includes a range of technical, financial, manufacturing, service and research organisations, will have the opportunity to source young people that are qualified or interested in STEM careers for their own companies and talent development programmes.
Representatives of these organisations will be present on July 27 and 28 at the Ticketpro Dome, in North Riding, and interact directly with the young people, which will help to highlight the diversity of people in these technical careers to the young people and to stimulate interest in these careers.
“The expo will involve sessions on how to get ready and thrive in university, how to prepare for and what to expect in a STEM career and how these disciplines affect our daily lives. “It will also involve fun aspects such as speed dating with different companies and exploring the various careers in STEM.”
There will be more than 30 organisations exhibiting, including Accenture, FNB, Rio Tinto, PSG, Hatch, Cummins, Omnia and Investec, among others, as well as research institutions and agencies, including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the University of the Free State and the South African National Space Agency.
“Our focus for this STEM Career Expo is twofold: the first is for companies to find and recruit promising young people in a cost-effective way and to build their employer brand among STEM students. “The second major focus is for students to find jobs and learnership and professional development opportunities,” says Wright.
“If we look at some of the key themes in Africa, two would be youth and technology and how these are coming together to drive new business models and growth,” he explains.
Therefore, the events are designed to be fun and engaging for participants, as well as highlight that career opportunities for STEM graduates exist across all industries and sectors, he adds.
The advantages of STEM qualifications include employability, good earnings potential and the impact that people in these technical disciplines have on growth and development in the country, as well as in Africa more broadly, says Wright.
Some of the sessions will include discussions on how to start a company. This is linked to the fact that the largest companies in the world currently were started by technically minded people in their 20s and that there are options other than going to work for a large firm, he says.
A greater focus and more coordination to expose children to STEM careers at an early age are necessary to grow the number of people entering technical disciplines.
“We have also ensured that there is a strong focus on attracting women into STEM education and careers. “If we fail to encourage women to consider STEM careers, we halve the number of people, entering these economically crucial disciplines and careers,” emphasises Wright.
The organisations participating in the STEM Career Expo have shown significant interest in actively recruiting young people, developing their talent pipelines and often offering internships and learnerships to young people.
Additionally, many of these companies also provide career development paths and rotate young employees to expose them to various aspects of their businesses, thereby helping to retain them within the companies and enabling them to find jobs that interest or excite them, he says.
Further, the STEM Career Expo will also provide information and tips for attendees throughout the year on finding jobs and advancing careers.
“Our aim is to reveal to people that STEM professionals are of all shapes, sizes and colours and that anyone with a passion for working in the disciplines that are reshaping our daily lives and the global economy can find a roadmap and guidance for their careers at the Expo.”