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The European Round Table (ERT), a forum of 45 leaders of major companies of European parentage, recently organised a multi-stakeholder event to voice its concern about increasing young people’s interest in the fields of Maths, Science and Technology (MST) as a key priority for the European industry. The forum convened representatives from the European Commission, the European Schoolnet, the European Industrial Research Management Association as well as other stakeholders. The event, which took place in Brussels on 2 October 2008, bore the programmatic title “Inspiring the Next Generation: How to harness the potential of Mathematics, Science and Technology to drive Innovation and Competitiveness in Europe”.
Programmatic, indeed: economic success and, as a logical consequence, social welfare is in no small measure linked to technological and scientific development. Every modern nation depends on a highly skilled workforce. Although the number of MST graduates is increasing, the student proportion in these subjects is still declining. Seen under the light of other unfavourable demographic trends, the initiative is indeed more than necessary. MST has to be promoted across European schools – from the primary school to the university and postgraduate level. Schools, academia and business have to work closely together to provide role models for young boys and girls and to enable teachers to put MST into meaningful life and career contexts
The event demonstrated that businesses are decided to play a more important role in the future, firstly by improving existing collaboration and coordination models, and secondly by more support in partnerships and long-term commitments between education and business.