CSIR Career Day inspires learners to study STEM fields

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The CSIR Career Day exposed learners to different areas of science, such as aeronautics and biotechnology.
The CSIR Career Day exposed learners to different areas of science, such as aeronautics and biotechnology.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) hosted 480 pupils at a science and technology Career Day, as part of its continued efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields among young people.

The Career Day, held yesterday at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria, is part of National Science Week, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, which focuses on using science and technology to provide sustainable development and improved quality of life.

The CSIR Career Day aimed to inspire grade nine to 11 learners from disadvantaged schools who are taking mathematics and science as subjects.

The annual event is aimed at sharing knowledge on science and technology by providing learners with the necessary tools to make informed decisions when choosing STEM careers.

Learners were exposed to different areas of science, such asecohydrology, aeronautics and biotechnology.

During the hybrid event, CSIR researchers used the platform to showcase various technologies and science-based activities, such as science experiments, exhibitions, presentations and motivational talks, designed to encourage the learners to pursue careers in STEM.

“I would like to emphasise the importance of getting into the ICT sector, as there is a huge skills demand as we speak, so I encourage you to look into artificial intelligence, computer science and all related courses or subjects that are tech-related, in order to avoid outsourcing these skills from companies or individuals,” said Thabang Kgarume, CSIR researcher and senior mining engineer.

“The tech sector is very broad and covers basically everything. For example, if you like playing games, you can pursue a career in gaming by becoming a professional gamer and work your way to representing SA on a global scale.”

South Africa is experiencing a massive shortage of ICT skills. According to recent research, the country lacks at least 70 000 ICT professionals, which is further exacerbated by the declining number of STEM graduates.

Justin Harrison, researcher at the CSIR National Laser Centre and PhD candidate, gave a motivational talk about the importance of knowing which career path to take.

“To be honest, I never really liked mathematics as a subject in my high school days until I came across a man at a local supermarket driving a nice car and I asked him what he does for a living and his response was: ‘I am an aeronautical engineer by profession.’ Fascinated by the word, I told myself that I am going to study aeronautics, only to find out later that it required good levels in mathematics.

“That is when my approach to mathematics changed and from that day on, I studied hard with the belief that I will definitely achieve my goal one day.”

Harrison urged the scholars to work hard and believe in themselves, noting that with time, not even the sky will be the limit.

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