Limerick research boss wants joint approach to grow STEM skills

BD Research and Development Director Padraig Fitzgerald, Scholarship Recipient Katie Dumas and Sarah Hartnett of the UL Foundation at the BD scholarship awards.

IRELAND needs more people with skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

That’s according to Padraig Fitzgerald, Site Director at BD’s Research Centre Ireland (RCI) at the National Technology Park in Limerick, who says that the growing demand can be met only through enhancing the public-private approach.

Presenting awards to ten University of Limerick students under its leading scholarship and bursary programme, Mr Fitzgerald said that business/industry and education partnerships are critical to unlocking Ireland’s STEM potential.

The programme is funded by the company through the UL Foundation to support students from the University’s Access programme, which works to encourage the participation of students from groups who have been under-represented in the university sector.

A key element of the BD RCI programme is that recipients of the bursaries and scholarships will also be assigned a professional mentor from BD.

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Mr Fitzgerald said: “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.”

He added: “Ultimately, Limerick and Ireland have a huge opportunity here. We are clearly a favourable location for inward and indigenous investment, we’ve got an excellent reputation in the space, have got superb collaboration going on between third level and industry, as this programme and other initiatives at UL reflect.”

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. 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 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.”