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Back to School for STEM

Schools outreach programme focused on promoting science role models currently active in the Irish workplace.

Back to School for STEM

Research shows that, due to commonly-held negative perceptions of science, many Irish students are choosing not to study STEM subjects and are missing out on the value of STEM-related careers.

To help address this issue, AbbVie has developed Back to School for STEM, a schools’ outreach initiative that sees employees from AbbVie’s five different sites across the country visit local schools, including those they themselves studied at, to act as ambassadors for science.

The programme, which is supported by Science Foundation Ireland, aims to give the inside story on careers in science and the rewarding career opportunities that can be unlocked by studying STEM subjects.

The idea is that by seeing and hearing from these science role models in person, and how they are working to change the world for the better, it will ignite an interest in STEM and potentially inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.

Students from St Naul’s National School, Donegal join Minister McHugh (second left); Rory O’Donnell, Principal (left); Robert Love, Communications Director (centre); Columba McGarvey, Site Director, Ballytivnan, Sligo (second right); and Caroline McClafferty, Director of Operations Business HR (European Operations and Biologics (right), all of whom are originally from County Donegal.

In October 2019, the Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, joined AbbVie representatives at the first school to benefit from theBack to School for STEM initiative – St Naul’s National School in Inver, Donegal.

Watch this video to learn more about the school visit and Back to School for STEM project.

Previously, AbbVie had published a multi-stakeholder report exploring the barriers to engagement in science-related subjects and careers. The document highlights the negative impact that low levels of STEM interest by students could have on Ireland’s employee emerging talent pipeline, particularly in the high-value pharma, biopharma and medical device sectors. 

Among the key recommendations of the STEM Paths document is a need to highlight the positive personal experiences of young Irish people currently working across Irish industry within STEM disciplines.

Pictured at the project launch were: Jackie O’Dowd, Science Foundation Ireland; Norah Patten; Mairead McGuinness MEP; Todd Manning, AbbVie.

Plans for the Back to School for STEM initiative were first unveiled at AbbVie’s site in Ballytivnan, Sligo in 2018.

In this video, Mairead McGuinness MEP, and astronaut-in-training Dr Norah Patten, are joined by representatives of Science Foundation Ireland and others at the event showcasing the STEM education initiative.