Asturias Regional Dept. for Science, Innovation and Higher Education

Asturias Regional Dept. for Science, Innovation and Higher Education

Organisation role: 
National STEM platform
Organisation type: 

Department for Science, Innovation and Higher Education (Consejería de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidad) is a ministry of the government of the Principality of Asturias (Spain). In a nutshell the department has three Directorates-General dedicated to specific fields of expertise. 


  1. General secretariat
  2. DG University
  3. DG Innovation, Research & Digital Transformation


Each DG is headed by a director-general, who reports to the regional minister in charge of the corresponding policy area. The structure is completed  with the Asturian Council for Science, Technology and Innovation, an advisory body that provides independent advice and support to aid management and directors in the design and evaluation of RDI strategies and policies. Members comprise key actors of the regional RDI ecosystem including University, Research Centres, Businesses and Trade Unions.


The department has a 5-year Regional Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation (Plan de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación del Principado de Asturias 2018-2022) (PCTI). The PCTI targets a range of actors in the triple helix: Research, Business, Education and expands the scope of the previous regional plan (2013-2017). Five strategic goals have been identified:


  1. Improve human capital in RDI 
  2. Enhance production of scientific knowledge in the region
  3. Increase the competitiveness and innovative capacity of our companies.
  4. Promote innovation in our public system
  5. Generate a new territorial model based in networks and consolidate technological strengths focused on specific social challenges affecting our region. 


A set of perfomance indicators have been defined for each strategic goals.  Indicators will be tracked on a yearly basis. The PCTI total budget for the period 2018-2022 is 447.5 million euro.


The regional STEM strategy (ASTURIAS 4 STEAM) is one of the actions envisaged to fulfill strategic goal #1 (“Improve human capital in RDI”). The programme focuses on Primary, Secondary and VET education and seeks to generate interest in STEM, equip younger people with a set of useful competences for their personal and professional life and   raise aspirations to pursue professional careers in STEM. In the first year of operations (2019) the region has:


  • Set up an advisory board (incl. policymakers, university, RDI sector representatives (research institutions, employers, professionals)
  • Undertaken a baseline study of  STEM in our region drawing on existing quantitative data (education and employment stats)  in order to determine :
    • Interest in STEM disciplines/careers
    • STEM competence/skills development of our young people)
    • STEM labour market (occupations/jobs/quality of employment/skills gaps/skills shortages)
  • Mapped existing initiatives (led by schools and/or external providers)
  • Drafted a communication plan and create website and social media profiles (in progress)


The baseline study debunks with evidence some of the taken-for-granted assumptions and negative messages directed at our education system. Asturias' performance in international assessments (TIMSS and PISA) is slightly above both the national and EU-average. And the same applies for interest in science (based in PISA latest data). Having said this, there’s ample room for improvement, i.e redressing not only the gender but also the socio-economic imbalances in STEM participation, tackling the high early leaving in Engineering careers but the starting point  is not as bleak as initially suggested.


On the employment side, our analysis of regional labour market data for STEM occupations brought to surface the need to provide a more nuanced version of  the “employability of STEM graduates”. Not all STEM qualifications secure a job, skills shortages are concentrated in very specific STEM sectors but more importantly most urgent  imbalances are not on the supply but on  the demand side. And they have to do with the structure (job polaristaoin) and size of our regional labour market (as compared to other regions) and the quality of employment (short-term contracts, low wages, precariousness)