How can these skill needs be met?
The skill challenges that these professionals may face depends on their specific job and industry of work. Nonetheless, common approaches to training and development can be recognised.
In-house training is pivotal in developing sector-specific as well as transferable skills for engineers and science professionals, such as business acumen, leadership and management expertise. National authorities can also stimulate the level of in-house training by targeting support to companies with sophisticated training practices that focus on competence development and effective learning outcomes 24.
Partnerships and joint actions of government authorities, social partners and other interested partners can offer solutions to tackling skill shortages and/or speed up the adoption of suitable training approaches in relatively new industries where researchers and engineers with very particular skill sets are necessary. The developments towards a European Skills Council for the maritime technology sector can offer inspiring lessons 25.
Partnerships can also promote training and learning “outside of the classroom” (such as study visits, learning sharing through voluntary associations, time spent in other employers/associations), especially regarding skillsets that draw expertise from more than one sectors, such as developing eco-friendly know-how of architects 26.
The expected increased demand for highly qualified researchers and engineers stresses the need to make such studies more attractive to young people. This calls for raising the attractiveness and quality of the so-called STEM/MINT 27 subjects in primary, secondary and higher education. Teacher training has also been identified as an enabling vehicle to make STEM subjects more appealing by developing teachers’ ability to link science and engineering subjects with current issues and developments, such as climate change 28. However, such efforts must then be backed up with effective career guidance for students.
With a greater need to promote diversity in the workforce and encourage women to participate in science and engineering professions, some countries have placed particular emphasis on making the profession more attractive to women, including Norway, Germany and the Netherlands 29. The European Commission is also taking steps to promote the progression of women working in these professions by funding a resource hub for sharing resources including policy briefings, best practices, experiences and other relevant information, which can be accessed by policymakers, experts and prospective professionals who are looking to promote the position of women entering, and progressing in, STEM professions 30.