STEM skills: Mind the gap!
We often hear from policymakers, media and employer groups that the EU faces a shortage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. However, what we rarely hear are specific details of what those skills shortages actually are and — just as crucially — where they are.
Businesses are especially concerned about the outlook. Pre-COVID, over half expected the shortage to worsen over the next 10 years, with expansion in the sector set to nearly double the number of new STEM roles required.
With many European schools and universities closed since mid-March, students have had to adapt to online and distance learning. It is too soon to assess whether students will fall behind in STEMs and other skills, but employers are already worried that the COVID crisis could slow Europe’s technological advancement due to a lack of future talent.
Post-COVID, re-establishing a strong pipeline of skills will be key to maintaining, at the very least, the EU’s standing in the STEM sector. The Commission’s Digital Education Action Plan designed to support technology use and the development of digital competences in education is an encouraging sign that policymakers are thinking more about STEM skills. But with a depressed job market for the foreseeable future, providing meaningful work experience opportunities will be a major challenge.
Questions to be discussed:
- How can schools make STEM subjects more appealing, engaging and accessible to a wider range of students, especially girls, with both classroom and remote learning?
- How can industry-education cooperation address the STEM challenge? Are schools and companies working together smartly? What are the best examples of this in Member States?
- Can the media coverage of the ‘science of COVID’ help reverse the declining interest in science studies and related professions? Can the crisis be an opportunity to re-ignite interest in the field?
- How can policymakers help ensure that Europe retains high-end STEM skills when faced with stiff competition from the US and Asia?
[The “Energise Your Day” event series stimulates open debate on the most pressing issues facing Europe, and by extension, the world. Equinor and EURACTIV believe that reflection and exchange of different perspectives enhance our understanding of common challenges and promotes holistic, long-term thinking leading to solutions and action.]
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Michael Horgan, Policy Officer Skills and Qualifications, DG EMPL, European Commission
Lina Galvez Munoz, MEP, Member FEMM Committee, European Parliament
Alexa Joyce, Director, Education Policy,
Teaching & Learning, Microsoft
Salvatore Nigro, CEO, JA Europe
Olav Aamlid Syversen, Head of EU Affairs,
09:30 – 09:35 Welcome & introduction by EURACTIV
09:35 – 09:50 Keynote speech Commissioner Mariya Gabriel
09:50 – 10:10 Opening statements from speakers
10:10 – 10:45 Discussion and Q&A
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