Tips for adults
by Sanne van Beem,
Reporter Expect Everything
First of all, the rate for youth unemployment is high i Europe. On the other hand, there is a shortage of technically skilled personnel. It is argued that both problems can be solved by getting children and young people excited about STEM, in order to make them choose a job in for example the engineering sector. I think it is not difficult at all to get young people enthusiastic about technology. After all, pages like Expect Everything have many likes.
But whose responsibility is this? Schools? Parents? Or is it the companies and government that need to start working on it? I believe that all parties have an interest in this process. The reason why previous attempts to get young people excited about technology have failed is, in my opinion, the lack of cooperation between all of above organisations.
Adults are just teenager wannabes
Until very recently teenagers were not involved at all in these adults plans! Every time, you clearly see it is all invented by adults. Well-intended of course, but they really are teenager wannabes and not the real thing. The campaigns that are successful have young people on board. Together with the adults they decide what the content will be and the young people are allowed to report themselves! Good examples of this technique are Youtech and the campaign Expect Everything (where you probably are reading my blog right now).
Tips for adult planners
I think the responsibility primarily lies at the schools. At my school, for example, a project motivates students to start their own research project in the lab at school; students can teach each other (for example in programming) and there are company visits scheduled. The project was developed by a teacher and it’s a great success. It would be great if more companies would be able to open up to these type of projects, so students can experience what was described in the oh so beloved school books and ask questions to people who know a lot about certain subjects.
Be proud of your achievements!
The government could encourage student projects, by providing funds for the research student’s projects. Also, schools should be awarded. This way the school can promote the projects and their success, when new teenagers have to choose their secondary school.
Last but not least, make sure students can execute these projects during school time and do not make the projects mandatory. Otherwise all attempts to get more people interested in STEM will just backfire.
Oh and all parental figures, you are very useful for catering purposes, because all these company visits and gaining enthusiasm eat out all of our energy!