7.3.1RECOMMENDATION 1: TACKLING SHORTAGES IN STEM

The shortages in STEM remain large. The percentage of STEM diplomas should be increased from 18.6% (2017) to 30% by 2030[1], VARIO puts forward seven action points:

  1. The ambition in the new STEM Action Plan[2]should be raised: 30% STEM diplomas by 2030;
  2. Stronger focus on impact: on increasing the share of graduates from STEM education;
  3. Actively attracting foreign STEM profiles: we refer to VARIO Advice 1 ‘Attracting and retaining top international talent[3];
  4. Stronger focus on STEM profiles with the largest mismatch: both academically, in the private sector and in education. In education, we refer to the shortages for subject teachers in mathematics, physics and chemistry;
  5. Stronger focus on STEAM: STEAM, in which A stands for Arts, is the combination of creativity and innovation with the more scientific and technical skills in STEM. In policy and in the professional field, the A in STEAM is still undervalued. However, these profiles form the innovation leaders and entrepreneurs of the economy in the 21st century. At the same time, in non-STEM education, including the social sciences and the humanities, adequate attention should be paid to technical skills and knowledge;
  6. A strong focus on STEM diversity and inclusion: policy must find more appropriate tools and instruments to increase the untapped potential of girls and young people with a migrant background for STEM careers;
  7. Focus on digital skills: the digital world will continue to offer opportunities and challenges for the competitiveness of our economy, the transformation of society over the next ten years. The focus on digital skills must start early enough from primary school.

[1] VARIO Memorandum 2019-2024: https://www.vario.be/en/publications/vario-memorandum-2019-2024
[2] In June 2021, the new action plan, STEM Agenda 2030, has been published, see https://beslissingenvlaamseregering.vlaanderen.be/?search=STEM-Agenda%202030 However, no concrete targets, i.e. 30% STEM diplomas by 2030, were included. VARIO hopes this will happen in the near future
[3] There is an English abstract available on:  https://www.vario.be/en/publications/advisory-report-1-attracting-and-retaining-top-international-talent