Regulating and improving toy safety

Ministry Of Toys

STEM Public Educational Toys

Learning through play, according to research studies conducted over the years, is a vital part of any child’s development. Right from infancy, a child learns about themselves and the world around through observation and play. One of the vital elements of child’s play time is toys. These are tools of educational play as they help a child develop diverse skills. Some of the essential skills that a child gains from educational play include problem solving, conflict resolution, coordination, creativity and imagination among other social, intellectual and physical skills.

Children can start playing with toys as early as 1 month. Here is a quick look into the kind of educational toys that would suit each child’s age group as well as their role in a child’s development.

• Between 1 month and 1 year, sensory play is essential so as to stimulate the child’s senses and responses. This helps in eye-hand coordination as well as boosts the child’s interactions with other family members. As the child progresses and becomes more active, introduce problem solving toys. This helps the child to work through conflicts and to understand the cause-effect of their actions. As they keep on figuring out how the toys and games work, through guidance coupled with trial and error, they build confidence in their own abilities.

• Between 1 year and 2 years, the child becomes mobile. Toys and activities at this stage should help teach coordination, balance and keep up curiosity of their new found ability to move around. Themed play sets are helpful as they help kids to develop recognition skills in areas such as colors, shapes, sounds etc.

• Children who are more than 2 years require toys that promote physical play. At this stage, they are more active, curious and energetic. Educational toys such as tricycles help improve coordination, as well as introduce other concepts such as safety (wearing helmet) and balance during play. Other toys such as drawing or writing boards, where a child can scribble, helps to develop motor skills, cognitive skills as well as basic literacy skills.

As parents or caregivers, it is important to note that your role in child’s play is vital – you cannot leave the child with the toy throughout and expect learning to happen. The guidance of the caregiver is important in showing the child how a toy works, as well as exploring the child’s creativity in the use of the toys. This involvement also develops language and communication skills in the child. Playtime with many children gives them the opportunity to learn social skills such as association, conflict resolution and empathy. The role of an adult in such cases is vital in giving guidance in these learning environments.

Public Education vs The Changing Job Market

Children in the 21st century and beyond need to be well prepared in order to keep up with the changing world; technology has taken over almost all aspects of life. This means that children have to be nurtured right from the start in order to cope with the fast paced world of tech changes. This is why it is important that children are exposed to tech from the start, with STEM educational toys. Stem Toys are Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math based toys geared towards learning

The traditional toys are important; they do contribute heavily to a child’s development. However, STEM educational toys expose the young minds to the world they will be living in – a world that relies on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. While the traditional education system has nurtured generations, there is need for improved learning in the STEM educational criteria in order to close up the skills gap in the market today.

The Skills Gap in a Changing Job Market 

According to a survey dubbed EuropeKidsWant, more than 42% of those interviewed, aged between 18 years and 30 years, said that they did not think that the learning institutions had prepared them well enough for the life they’ll have in future. While young people may be termed as overly critical, the colossal levels of unemployment show that these concerns are not entirely trivial. 

One of the widely identified problems is that the schools’ curricular is outdated and/or inflexible. This current public education disregards any abilities outside of books and grades. The curricular disregards talents in science and technological innovations and only focuses on what has been taught for centuries. This system doesn’t take into account the changing ways of accomplishing goals, which leaves the learners at a loss when they enter the job market.

According to the Employer Perspective Survey that had more than 18,000 employers as respondents, there are significantly more jobs than there are qualified candidates. According to the survey, employers were asked about the factors that influence their recruiting decisions. 52% of the employers said that academic qualifications were of no or little value while 66% said that work experience was very important or vital.

The survey also reported that about half of the employers felt that learners were prepared; the rest felt that school leavers were ill prepared for the job market. 73% of the respondents said that they offered some training to employees when they noticed a skills gap. About 26% of employers said they arranged training for employees which is designed to lead to recognized vocational qualifications.

Another research by Cambridge based Bidwells sought to understand why there is such a wide skills gap in the UK job market. The most accurately felt reason, especially in the knowledge based industries was that there is a mismatch between the supply of talent and the market demand. In order to assess the issue, Bidwells sought to compare the number of vacancies in different industries with the number of undergraduate enrolment in the year 2017.

The research found out that the jobs in professional scientific and technical industries were three times the number of undergraduates enrolled, 21,970 versus 72,000. The engineering and construction industry was also battling the same shortage, with the vacancies reaching at 28,000 against 9,310 enrolled learners. The manufacturing industry was looking at 34,020 enrolments against 59,000 available positions. Other industries such as health, social work and education were facing similar shortages. These challenges are likely to be exaggerated by UK’s exit from the EU.

A research based on HESA fulltime enrollment data and Office of National Statistics found out that despite an increase in enrolment in computer science, there was still a skills shortage. Information and communications industry had 26,100 enrolments against 44,000 vacancies. Other industries such as finance, administration and insurance faced similar shortages. Entertainment industry, however, had a surplus, with 50,000 enrolments against 19,000 jobs.

Numerous studies over time have also shown that 96% of organizations working in science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM), and 97% of those in financial organizations have had difficulties in recruiting skilled workers in the last one year.

The Tech Nation report of 2017 showed that more than 50% digital tech businesses reported a shortage of skilled workers, a quarter of which cited that talent sourcing and recruiting was a major challenge. According to the Quarterly Economic Survey by British Chambers of Commerce, 75% of businesses in the manufacturing industry and 71% of businesses in the service industry have reported recruiting difficulties.

Stem Education Trends to Look Out For

It is apparent that there is an acute shortage of STEM professionals in a rapidly expanding job market. This shortage is so severe that it is costing UK an average of £1.5bn annually. As such, STEM has established itself as one of the most vital skills for today’s learners. Consequently, learning institutions are preparing a child for STEM jobs and finding ways to incorporate STEM in their programs. Here are some of the trends to look out for in the coming years.

First STEM Trend: Technology and Coding

We are living in an age where digital data is effortlessly accessed and collected on any device. We have seen data such as breathing rates, home temperatures, and worlds economic statuses easily stored in tiny gadgets. The demand for coding skills to format this data already exceeds supply, and this demand will only intensify in the years to come. Additionally specialists, especially in data science fields will be expected to be proficient in using internet tools as well as coding.

Steve Jobs once said that he thought that everyone should learn how to do computer programming because it teaches learners how to think. He viewed computer science as a liberal art. Apart from the fact that engineering graduates are the highest paid group of workers, the demand for coding professionals is still unmet and keeps rising. We’ll see educators in the coming years focus on teaching children these skills, from simple Google searches to coding, to giving them a solid foundation so as to be competitive in the future job market. These are some of What STEM Educators Should Know.

Second STEM Trend: Teaching the Teachers

Here is the fact: most educators did not go through a STEM system, with only about 47% of them with a relevant GCSE. As the need to train learners on everything STEM keeps soaring, professional development of these educators will be embraced. 

Third STEM Trend: Visual Communication and Incorporation in other Learning Areas

As of now, educators who have already taken up STEM education like to refer to the system as STEAM. This is because they understand that arts play a big role in design thinking and communication. As such, learners are taught to use language arts to communicate their ideas especially in project presentations.

Younger learners will be taught how to develop their visual communications skills through simple tasks such as explaining their favorite game or toy by “showing and telling”. Middle school learners can explain their ideas through expository essays on science projects or topics. Seniors school learners can deliver power point presentations of their research projects or explain programs they have taken part in or watched, such as TED talks.

Here’s the deal; children need to see STEM in as many areas of learning as possible. Educators are already incorporating science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Photography, Social Studies, English, History and all other learning areas in between.

Fourth STEM Trend: Project Based Learning

More schools will take up the responsibility of adopting project based learning. Learners are given authentic challenges and problems. They are then encouraged to seek solutions to these problems. In the process, they develop skills and knowledge to solve practical world issues. The kids are given access to all the tools that they will need to come up with the appropriate solutions to real life issues. In addition to getting hands-on experience, learners also develop cross-collaboration skills. This learning can start as early as elementary school and carry on beyond college.

Fifth STEM Trend: Parental Involvement

Yes, parents will take up a more active role in education. When parents are actively involved, learners tend to have better outcomes. It has been proven several times that learners whose parents or guardians are actively involved in their education get better grades, have better behaviors and socialize well with others. Parents increasingly understand how vital their role is in impacting the education of their children, both at home and in school. 

Sixth STEM Trend: Playtime Is Gold!

Stanford University researchers found out that too much homework is counterproductive when it comes to real education. This is because the extra work doesn’t allow the learner enough time to cultivate critical life skills or even meet critical developmental needs. The no-homework policies, especially for primary school children across the UK, are now very popular. This is because teachers make more time for learners to play. Additionally, the learners have time to explore as much as they can when they are at home.

There are already a good number of educators who are working on enhancing STEM in learning. These educators cross many fields, and often, their work is described as having “ethics” especially in computer science. However, the STEM scope is a lot wider than the philosophical discipline of molarity.

It is essential that educators enhance the STEM learning process so that graduates understand how the world works, as well as how their actions affect humanity. This helps equip learners with a fighting chance against a major tech takeover. These equipped learners will also be in a position to investigate and communicate the impact of STEM on humanity. These skills will help steer the conversation with broader goals from a technical expertise point of view.

Some Fun Facts about STEM Jobs

The STEM workforce is rapidly growing since the 90s as the marketplace tries to keep up with the rapidly changing world. Here is a quick clarification; STEM jobs are not restricted to specific industries. This is one of the major misconceptions of our time today. STEM is applied across the industries, and the workforce comprises of differing degrees. Here are some fun facts about STEM workforce.

1. People in STEM jobs earn higher than their non-STEM counterparts

As already mentioned, STEM workers are among the highest paid in today’s workforce. This means that they get a higher pay compared to non-STEM workers even if their education level is the same. According to a study conducted in the USA, non-STEM workers earn about 26% less than their STEM counterparts. This difference in pay is seen even with workers who have the highest education levels.

Here is a quick list of the highest paying STEM jobs in the UK today.

• Mathematics

• Mechanical engineering

• Pharmacy

• Electrical engineering

• Statistics

• Life Science

• Chemical engineering

• Computer Science

• Civil engineering

• Aeronautical engineering

Engineering sector is a pretty valuable STEM skill, the highest paid among the engineering sector being Aeronautical engineers who take home an average of £51, 448. These jobs mostly require a degree or a master’s holder. Since they are a niche career, there aren’t many open positions across UK. On the other hand, there is an insatiable demand for professionals with a technology degree. Learners with Computer Science degrees are among the most sought after professionals in STEM sectors today.

2. A third of STEM workers haven’t completed a higher level degree

Did you know that 35% of the STEM workforce does not even have a Bachelor’s degree? While about 15% are reported to have an associate degree, 14% are reported to have no degree but have some college education. These statistics are mostly prevalent in computer workers, technicians, engineers and health care practitioners.

This is not to say that STEM workers do not have academic qualifications. About 36% of this workforce possesses a bachelor’s degree even if they do not have a graduate degree. 29% of the STEM workforce has a professional, masters or doctorate degree. The group that has the highest level of education is life scientists, with 54% of then possessing an advanced degree.

It is also important to note that about half of the STEM workforce is employed in non-STEM jobs. While the numbers show that 33% of the STEM workforce is undergraduate degree holders, only half of them are actually employed in STEM position. These non-STEM positions include finance, business and management, all of which attract graduate who have STEM training. About 24% of learners with an engineering major are now in finance, business and management positions.

3. Gender Differences in STEM Workforce

Here is the thing; women are represented across the industries. In some industries, women are over-represented while in other industries, they are underrepresented. For starters, women make up about three quarters of the healthcare technicians and practitioners workforce. This is the largest occupational cluster considered in this analysis.

The growth of numbers of women employed in life sciences and math occupations have made tremendous improvements over the years, making up almost half of the workforce in these industries. On the other hand, women are still underrepresented in physical science, computer and engineering fields, making up about 39%, 25% and 14% of the workforce respectively.

While it is evident that women have made strides to increase their representation in physical sciences field, they still have work to do to increase representation in computer studies field. Computer occupations are among the highest paid STEM clusters. The numbers of women in this cluster have actually decline since the 90s even as the numbers rise in other clusters. The numbers of women in computer occupations have dropped to 25%.

Quick Info on STEM Industry Clusters

STEM cuts across industries, and is not confined to digital and engineering. In order to get more manageable stats, it is important to group these STEM industries into befitting clusters based on their characteristics. Industries that have a similar workforce and similar supply chains are clustered together. There are two main clusters.

• Local industry cluster, which is made up of industries that serve the local market and may not have much to contribute to the national or international market

• Tradable industry clusters tend to export nationally and internationally. There are 35 of these clusters, and they are considered to be the drivers of economic growth.

Majority of the jobs are in the tradable industry cluster. While some sectors such as digital mainly need tech skills, other sectors such as oil and gas need more technical and physical STEM skills. While all sectors are contributing to economic growth, tradable industry clusters play the biggest part in the growth, especially internationally.

The Sweeping Digital Transformation

The digital disruption is evident across industries globally. We have seen how industries have changed to conform to this ever-changing digital transformation; from play to work and rest. There have been many indications of the end of an era, and a few elements distinguish the new era. 

More than half the businesses that are running today in the UK will not be in the same form by 2022, thanks to digital disruption. A study commissioned by Fujitsu revealed that close to half (44%) of UK business leaders admit that their organizations will not exist in its current form by 2021 in the wake of digital disruption. So, what are the occupations of the future?

In the wake of digital disruption, 97% of UK institutions have been impacted, even as 94% expect further disruption. 92% of UK businesses in the study revealed that they needed to evolve in order to thrive in the wake of the disruption. 61% of business executives admitted that their biggest challenge is the digital disruption while 46% are worried for their organization’s future while 46% wish the disruption wasn’t affecting them as much as it was.

Digital Transformation across Clusters

Industries as a whole, as opposed to individual businesses, are experiencing the changes that come with digital transformation. On assessing the external forces that have forced businesses to adjust to digital disruption, 46% of business executives have sighted changing customer behavior. 41% of the business leaders sighted that competitors forced them to conform to the digital wave, while 28% of them identified organizations such as Google entering their market. 45% identified new entrants and increased competition as a reason for the pressure to keep up with the changes.

The digital evolution has affected all business operations from customer service to internal processes in addition to the entire community in which business is conducted. New entrants in the digital age are taking over, forcing industry veterans to evolve or else get lost in the crowd. Digital evolution is pretty effective in supporting innovation, boosting revenue and increasing competitiveness if adopted well. In order to benefit from this revolution, businesses need to digitize fast, effectively, confidently with proper strategies.

80% of business leaders in the survey anticipate dramatic changes in business in the next several years, but they also believe that the transformation brings with it exciting opportunities. With this anticipation in mind, business leaders are feeding a hunger to quickly capitalize. 86% of executives emphasize on the need to catch up quickly in order to stay relevant. Despite all that, 46% of the leaders expressed confidence in their organization’s ability to keep thriving in the digital age. They cited the need to work with the right tech partner, increase innovation budget as well as focus of boosting digital skills in the organization.

The Digital Disruption Challenge

There is a general consensus that the digital wave is quite challenging, especially to businesses that are deeply rooted in traditional operations. While many have the choice of ignoring the change and fading into oblivion, they do understand that this is an incredible opportunity to venture into unknown yet exciting frontiers. There are endless opportunities for prosperity, innovation and growth.

The Blockchain Revolution

Cryptocurrency technology can be used to transform industries for the better; from shipping to medicines and food. It can also come in pretty hardy in attacking social ills such as human and child trafficking.

While the hype around cryptocurrency has subsided, the technology underpinning bitcoin can have varied helpful applications and save millions of lives, this technology, commonly known as blockchain, also paves way for global business growth as well as help combat crime.

Blockchain Defined

Blockchain is a database tech that functions on the principle of a record owned and shared by multiple owners. The database is set in a way that if one owner makes even the slightest changes, all the other owners’ copies are promptly updated.

When designed well, these ledgers can help eradicate accounting errors, fraud and make even the tiniest of details easy to track as far down the line as is needed. Blockchain technology has capacity to provide accountability and clarity instantly. This minimizes the influence and costs associated with middle men in countless applications. These capabilities make it a must for every organization.

But why does all this matter to humble consumers? Well, here is a scenario. Remember the E. coli concerns that surrounded lettuce in USA last year? With the capabilities of blockchain software, every little detail in the romaine lettuce would have been easily traced. With increases food quality and safety applications, the software helps keep food items in check in all stages of the process from production to delivery.

We have already seen retail giants such as Walmart adopt blockchain tech to keep track of their green vegetable supplies. The suppliers, who are more than a hundred in number, are able to input all the details pertaining to the supplies into the database.

Similarly, the technology can be used to make medicines safer as it helps in adherence of the process in each step as well as tracks all the details pertaining to it. This helps save lives, especially of people who die from taking fake medicines. The possibilities of blockchain technology are endless.

Blockchain Technology in Education

Education technology has since moved from smart boards and remote learning. There are countless ways through which blockchain technology can be of use in the education sector. For starters, the technology can be used to develop learning and development platforms. One of the first projects that have embraced blockchain technology is Education Ecosystem Platform. This system is used to connect content producers, developers, academicians and students. Other learning institutions can use this technology to create simple internal ecosystems that allow learners to connect with each other and request or download learning materials and get feedback.

On the system, users get tokens when they invite new members and make contributions and use the learning materials shared. Content creators get rewards for their contribution to the ecosystem which those who interact with the content get tokens. With more practice, there is more learning, which is an overall boost in the education sector as a whole. Other benefits of blockchain technology in the education sector include the following.

• Secure, accurate and easily retrievable student credentialing and records - this information can be shared with relevant parties on a need basis. These parties may include potential employers looking to verify the credentials.

• The system fosters transparency in the education sector. It fosters communication, which is vital in school relations especially between learners and educators. With proper guidance and advice on academic issues, learners can do their own assignments instead of paying someone to do them.

• Plagiarism is an epidemic in the academic world. Blockchain technology can be used to control the access and/or dispersal of copyrighted material, especially online. The primary function of the platform is to ensure security of the stored information. Therefore, no alterations can be made to copyrighted materials as it is encrypted.


Blockchain technology has endless possibilities in the education sector. The systems created are prefect for networking, sharing and storing information securely. The technology also makes a myriad of processes easier, safer and faster. While new technologies are emerging daily, it is advisable to learn all we can about them, and take advantage of the changes for the better.

Better and safer toy safety guaranteed!

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