The taskforce 'Towards a new Norwegian STEM strategy' the Norwegian national STEM platform (NCSR) aims to explore existing STEM (skills) strategy models and take the next step in the development of new national STEM strategy for Norway. The second meeting in this series focused on both the ongoing political work of the Steering Group as assessing and discussing existing best-practices in Europe (both STEM strategies and implementation programmes).
Currently the government is lacking a plan and political foundation for a follow-up STEM strategy. In particular, there is a strong need to increase the gender balance in selected STEM fields, improve the performance in natural science topics among Norwegian school children and strengthen the collaboration between schools and professional STEM role models and industry. Through the taskforce 'Towards a new Norwegian STEM strategy' the Norwegian national STEM platform (NCSR) aims to explore existing STEM (skills) strategy models and take the next step in the development of new national STEM strategy for Norway.
The goal of the second taskforce meeting (August 24-25, Oslo, Norway) was (1) to discuss the general progress, current work and outline for 2023 and (2) present and discuss various best practices from Europe in the area of school-company collaboration in STEM education. Expected outcomes of the meeting include a platform for data sharing and collaboration, an (updated) milestone plan and timeline for the ongoing political work in the various working groups. In parallel to the taskforce meeting a Steering Group meeting (national stakeholders only) will take place on August 30. A third and final taskforce meeting will be organised in February 2023 (date to be confirmed).
Day 1 of the two-day programme focused on the status of the ongoing taskforce. The taskforce coordinator Silje Wolff (NCSR) provides an update on the general progress of the political work and outline of the planned activities for the coming year. The role of the EU STEM Coalition and its partners is highlighted for the non-members present at the meeting. The ultimate goal of NCSR is to induce a change of pace in STEM uptake in Norway to ensure Norway's current and future skills needs. So far the following actions have been undertaken:
The meeting continues with a presentation of Guro Rorvik (NCSR) on the STEM ecosystem-pilot (one of the cornerstones of the envisioned future STEM strategy). The STEM ecosystem is a pilot project in Tromsø coordinated by the Arctic University (UiT) and NCSR (region north). The project was initiated to create new meeting points for schools, universities and businesses, and aims to increase the science capital for kids and youth´s facing educational choices. The aim of the pilot project is to develop a sector-wide ecosystem model that can be transferred to other regions in Norway. Dorte Salomonsen (ASTRA, Denmark) then briefly introduces a new Danish project they participate in that aims to measure the science capital of Danish youths. The project is in an early phase and will last seven to ten years, starting this fall. The work has started to collect data through a number of different surveys. The results are of great interest for the taskforce members and will be presented at a later TFM.
The second presentation (by Eline Oftedal of Abelia) focuses on the the status of the political work and mandate of the steering group. The goal of the steering group is to get politicians onboard and make them see the importance of the initiative. Several new actions are agreed, including:
The next presentation focused on the current Dutch National Technology Pact (originally launched in 2013) and predecessor of various national STEM strategies in the Netherlands starting with the Deltaplan for STEM (2004-2010), the Dutch governments' response to raise the proportion of STEM graduates by 15%. Key components of the Dutch STEM strategy include a multi-stakeholder approach (over 60 partners in the 'pact') including 3 national ministries, the regions, the education sectors and the social partners, a 'regional approach' (leaving much room for regions to develop their own priorities), a strong monitoring component ('Technology Pact Monitor') that combines various government data sources (education & labour market) and the so-called 'chain approach' (objectives cover all education levels as well as the labour market). For a full overview, please see the meeting documents via the button on the right. During the discussion session the importance of in particular a monitoring instrument (also for the political work) is highlighted as a key success factor.
Following the presentation a discussion round focused on the political work took place. Some of the key points and actions include responsding to the planned government white papers (with a key role for the employer organisation involved), building a broader political coalition around the topics and involve a broader group of stakeholders, in particular those affected by current skills shortages (and anchoring them in news events like the recently collapsed bridge, and societal debates about e.g. Norway's lack of self-sufficiency in food production). There also needs to be more emphasis on the fact that STEM competences and Norway's technical capabilities are lost when they are not maintained. The discussion session is concluded with a short presentation of new and upcoming NCSR activities and upcoming surveys.
On day 2 of the programme the focus shifted towards best practices in collaboration with industry. Several European best practices were highlighted, including the Dutch Jet-Net programme for school-company cooperation in secondary education (currently involving over 2000 companies) and the Danish Tektanken programme (which provides ways for schools to conform to the 2017 education law that requires schools to form partnerships with at least one company). For a detailed overview of these programmes and their results, please see the meeting documents.
A presentation was then given by a representative Kristine Helle-Andresen on how to make collaboration attractive to companies. Key points include:
The meeting is concluded with an overview of the next steps and actions in the taskforce (see next steps below).
The next steps in the taskforce 'Towards a New Norwegian STEM strategy' are: