General Electric (GE) and Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) has hosted a workshop that was intended to sensitize secondary school students on the benefits of taking up STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. STEM studies and careers are becoming increasingly important in order to prepare students to develop innovative solutions to solve challenges in diverse sectors.

The workshop consisted of a tour of the GE Healthcare Training Institute, a panel discussion with GE senior business leaders where they shared career advice as well as one-on-one mentorship sessions for the students

According to statistics from the Bureau of Labour, 58% of all new jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are in computing. Yet in Africa, less than 2% of students, under 18, finish school with vital STEM skills. The gap is even greater among underserved and underrepresented communities more so among young girls. According to UNESCO, only 28 percent of women globally are currently working in science and technology related fields. In Kenya, only 9% of Kenyan women are registered engineers.

Through the platform created by YSK, students from across the country are encouraged to explore careers in STEM. In 2018, YSK’s inaugural National Science and Technology Exhibition took place, from which 22 projects providing solutions in energy, infrastructure, agriculture, social issues, and more were selected. These projects are potential small micro enterprises that could grow to large-scale industries to provide employment to young people in the country.

Brenda Mbathi, Director, Government Affairs & Policy and GE Women’s Network Leader for East Africa, had this to say, “STEM is important today with technology and innovation continuously expanding into every aspect of our lives. At GE, we find it vital to expose students to our facilities and teams working in STEM related roles across our Healthcare, Power and Aviation businesses. This gives them an opportunity to develop a passion for innovation whether in employment or entrepreneurship.”