Tomorrow’s world – what inspires young people today?

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Blog, Innovation, Resilience

By Jim Haywood

Back in the early 70’s, I remember watching the BBC programme Tomorrow’s World with a sense of fascination and excitement.  It was my weekly window into the latest innovative applications of science and technology.  Whilst some of these didn’t quite get off the ground (floating bicycles, centrally heated ski poles and plants doubling as TV aerials……), many went on to improve and enrich our lives.  First aired in 1965, Tomorrow’s World introduced us to kidney dialysis in the home, laser eye surgery, fibre optics, GPS, bar codes and much more. It’s energetic and enthusiastic exposure of young people to the application of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) made these subjects seem sexy.

Despite massive advances since 1965, it is still likely to be students at school today who will find many of the solutions for tomorrow’s world – things like sustainable personal mobility, energy, housing and food.  But what is inspiring these young people, and are they being taught the right things?  Worryingly, there seems to be a big STEM skills gap as well as a lack of enthusiasm of young people to study these subjects.  A recent report by MathWorks highlights:

  • More than six in ten (61%) business leaders and 68% of academics who think there is a skills gap believe it will take over ten years to close;
  • More than eight in ten (83%) businesses and almost nine in ten (89%) academics think the skills gap needs to be bridged in order for the UK to be competitive in the world economy;

The report concludes: “STEM curricula need to better reflect the requirements of industry, bearing in mind that during their careers students will need to solve problems that are not yet known, using technologies that haven’t been invented yet.”

At Achill Management, we are looking at ways in which schools and students could be encouraged to get interested in science and technology.  Is enough being done to expose young people to the practical application of STEM subjects and enthuse and inspire them in the way that Tomorrow’s World did for me?  How can we help inspire the next generation solution finders for challenges such as sustainable personal mobility, energy, housing and food?  Could this, for example, be in the form of some sort of prize competition?

We’d love to hear views on this.  More on this subject to follow!

Jim is the Achill lead on sustainability in action.  Get in touch with Jim to find out how we do it.