Roundtable: Climate, Diversity and the role of STEM

Roundtable: Climate, Diversity and the role of STEM

8 June 2021
Host organisation: 
EU STEM Coalition
City & meeting location: 
virtual (Youtube livestream)
Short summary: 

The transition to environmentally sustainable societies will require technological innovation across a broad range of sectors. From green energy and the elimination of micro-plastics to sustainable agriculture and transport: sufficient availability of STEM-qualified people is an important pre-requisite for the development and implementation of technologies that can facilitate this transition.


In this virtual 'Roundtable', members of the EU STEM Coalition will present case-studies related to three challenges to getting more young people into STEM career paths. These case studies illustrate the key points of the position paper The role of STEM Skills in the transition to environmentally sustainable societies (see meeting documents).


Objective of the meeting: 

The goal of the meeting is to present and discuss the EU STEM Coalition’s concept-position paper on the topic of the role of STEM in the transition to environmentally sustainable societies. The  paper will be submitted as input for the European Commission’s upcoming Recommendation on Education for Environmental Sustainability.


On June 8, 2021, the EU STEM Coalition organised a 'virtual roundtable'. The event was organised on the request of European Commission. Its main objective was to provide input for the upcoming 'Recommendation on Education for Environmental Sustainability'. 


Prior to the meeting, a (concept) position paper was drafted by the EU secretariat based on an extensive questionnaire among the members of the EU STEM Coalition network. 


After a brief introduction by Geert Asselbergs (EU STEM Coalition) and introductory presentation by Sumathi Subramaniam (European Commission) three case-studies were presented. Each case studies illustrated one of the main challenges that emerged from the questionnnaire and highlighting the key points of the position paper (see meeting documents).


The first challenge focused on the issue of gender equality in STEM. Susanne Jakobs of the ZDI central office (Germany) presented two case studies from local ZDI networks in North Rhine-Westphalia. Unique aspects of these initiatives in comparison with others elsewhere in Europe were the intensity and duration of the programme (weekly meetings), strong focus on impact (in terms of effects on student career choices) and strong private sector commitment (majority of the project funding coming from industry). More information about these initiatives can be found in the briefing notes (see meeting documents). 


The second challenged focused on the issue of mainstreaming successful practices. Sebastiaan Smit of PTvT (Netherlands) presented a case study from the JNTN (flagship) programme for secondary education. In this case study, the existing JNTN network for school-parntnerships (2000 companies, 40% of secondary schools) was leveraged to upscale an initiative focused on digital skills developed by FME (Dutch Tech industry association) and managed to reach over 80.000 students participating in a massive 'virtual escape room' (largest educational escape room in Europe) in under two months showing the value and potential of long-term education-industry partnerships.


The third challenge focused on the issue of creating more synergies between EU, national and regional initiatives and reducing fragmentation. Mr. Alberto Terenzi of EIT RawMaterials presented the Girls go Circular programme, a cross-KIC initiative focused on improving digital skills of young people through digital education modules. 


A planned panel discussion and Q&A with the audience was unfortunately cancelled due to technical issues. In response, feedback was collected after the meeting through a web-form and integrated in the (concept) position paper. 




Next steps: 

The EU STEM Coalition will collect and summarise the input and feedback and integrate it in the concept-position paper. The paper will be submitted to the European Commission through the upcoming consultation.