Urgent need for more investment in technology and skills to help prevent future pandemics - and reduce climate change

·3-min read
The new findings come as IBM launches a new campaign to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects amongst young people
The new findings come as IBM launches a new campaign to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects amongst young people

Concerned Brits believe the nation needs to do more to enhance its preparedness for pandemics and combat climate change.

The impact of coronavirus restrictions is continuing to take its toll and across the UK, the public’s awareness of improving provision and capacity for dealing with crises is being heightened.

Over four in five of us (83 per cent) reckon it is essential for the country to invest more in emerging technology and skills to improve our ability to address major issues like pandemics and climate change, with almost nine in ten (89 per cent) believing that the use of technology is vital for the future of the economy.

And with a huge volume of our investment being dedicated to young people, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) admit the current level of focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Technology) in schools is not enough to futureproof the UK and could leave our society vulnerable in years to come.

These new findings come as IBM launches a new campaign to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects amongst young people. The company has released a series of videos for schoolchildren explaining Quantum computing, an emerging technology with the potential address big societal issues like sustainability and climate change.

Dr James Wootton, a Quantum researcher at IBM, said: “Quantum computing is a really good example of an emerging technology that requires STEM education and skills. It promises game-changing applications across almost every sector, such as better batteries for electric cars, quicker discovery of new medicines, or the discovery of new materials for things like solar panels or carbon capture.

“But to take advantage of this opportunity, the UK needs to ensure that young people are developing skills in the right areas.”

Brits are determined for this trend to change, however, with almost all of us (94 per cent) claiming there are numerous benefits to children having a good STEM education.

Whether it’s helping young people understand the world around us (71 per cent), promoting problem solving skills (69 per cent), improving career prospects (66 per cent) or supporting innovation and future economic growth (57 per cent), the nation is key to ensuring young people are provided with the appropriate skills to help protect the UK in the future.

IBM has extensive and successful programmes including P-TECH and SkillsBuild to address these skills gaps, and in October the company made a commitment to upskill 30 million people globally by 2030.

The new video series, entitled What How Why, invited students from schools and colleges in London Leeds and Dublin to directly ask IBM Research experts to explain Quantum computing. Introduced by teacher and mathematician Bobby Seagull, these conversations covered what Quantum computing is, why it is important for the skills they will need in future and how it will make a difference to the world they are growing up in.

And Dr Wootton added: “The videos helped us explore Quantum computing in terms everyone can understand, the applications and skills needed for a future, and the impact it can make on some of the big challenges we face.

“Even though we created these videos for young people, they are a great primer for anyone that wants to demystify quantum computing and understand its potential to change the world.”

To watch the new series of videos, visit the IBM UK & Ireland Think blog: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/think/uk-en/what-how-why-quantum-explained/

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting