LIMERICK company BD is providing scholarships and bursaries to ten UL students, while it is also assigning professional mentors from the company to the learners.
One of those mentors is Jennifer Hogan, from Sixmilebridge, who said that the support will be invaluable to the students.
“I got this type of mentoring myself when I was in the early stages of my career, and I found it really useful. I’m really looking forward to giving back to the programme now as a mentor. It will be great to interact with the UL students and offer them some guidance on their careers.”
BD is one of the country’s leading med-tech research facilities and its Limerick site director Padraig Fitzgerald said that there is a need to improve access to education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
“From government to industry and education, there is consensus that we have a challenge in terms of STEM skills.
“A European Commission suggests that 24 out of every 1,000 female graduates have an ICT related subject and only six go on to work in the digital economy.
“Growing the number of women engaged with technology is hugely important for the sector as it will bring vital new perspectives as well.
“It is a challenge I am very confident we can meet but it will take collaboration from industry, education partners across third and second level and, indeed, government support.
“It’s fair to say we are already seeing inroads and our own awards programme is evidence of that; industry and third level partners coming together to put support in place to make sure these students reach their potential.
“But we have more to do. The task is for industry, education and government to continue working on this, not least in the area of ensuring access for all to third level.”
Sarah Hartnett, Director of Development at the UL Foundation said: “It is fantastic to see pioneering companies like BD RCI demonstrate such leadership with their support for the programme to deepen STEM skills and we are delighted to have the opportunity at UL to partner with them.
“We’re particularly pleased that this engagement focuses specifically on not just women in STEM but under-represented student groups at third level.
“A key element of the programme from our perspective also is that BD also provides mentorship.
“Financial support to help students through their education is one thing but the professional mentoring brings it to a new level.
“Our students, as a result, have the opportunity to get really deep industry understanding and support along the way and they are really benefiting from this.”
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.