Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock TD has launched the Smart Futures STEM Careers Week to encourage secondary students to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and related sectors.

Part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, the initiative is a new phase of the Smart Futures programme run by Discover Science and Engineering (DSE) through Science Foundation Ireland.

“Most of our children’s career opportunities will be built around harnessing new and evolving technologies that are only now establishing themselves. It is critically important that we give students a window into those industries and the experiences of people working in them,” the Minister said.

“The Smart Futures STEM Careers Week does just that; using new media technologies that are second nature to teenagers and explaining how many people in Ireland are now doing some very exciting work that is having an impact on lives all over the world.”

This new campaign will highlight medical devices in particular as a thriving sector, with support from the Irish Medical Devices Association (IMDA), as well as existing partners such as ICT Ireland and Engineers Ireland.

“The medical technology sector in Ireland employs 25,000 in over 200 plus companies, exports €7.2bn per annum and continues to grow,” said Sharon Higgins, director, IMDA.

“A skilled and adaptable workforce is central to the sector’s future success with 60pc of companies indicating they will recruit this year. The current skills shortage in the industry has produced a need for graduates with science, technology, engineering and maths qualifications.”

The Smart Futures STEM Careers Weekwill run on the website from 22 to 26 October 2012.

During that week a panel of professionals working in areas such as gaming, mobile app development, cybersecurity, computer forensics, medical devices and energy will engage with the public to explain the work they do and what is required to get those jobs.

Students and guidance counsellors are invited to submit questions in advance. The deadline for questions is 28 September. Answers will be published online during the STEM Careers Week.