Digitalization, technology and climate change - STEM skills are the key to the future

Skills in mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology (STEM) are key to mastering the challenges of the future. Almost all key industries require qualified specialists and managers with an understanding of mathematical, scientific and technical contexts and corresponding IT skills. A shortage in these areas jeopardizes Germany as a business location.

The current shortage of skilled workers in the natural sciences and technology is already affecting the innovative capacity of companies in Germany. Although the STEM job and skills gap (difference between registered vacancies and registered unemployed people in the STEM segment) has narrowed significantly during the pandemic-related crisis, the number of vacancies still significantly exceeds the number of skilled workers looking for work (STEM gap in October 2022: 326,100). This particularly affects electrical and energy professions, the IT sector, but also mechanical and automotive engineering, for example. However, long-term employment trends are also evident: the number of IT specialists increased by almost 70% between the end of 2012 and spring 2022. In academic professions, the growth in the IT sector was even higher at over 110%. STEM specialists are therefore still urgently needed.

Immigration secures demand for skilled workers

The high demand for STEM specialists is also evident in the employment of foreign workers. Between the end of 2012 and spring 2022, it grew disproportionately by almost 65%, whereas the proportion of Germans in STEM skilled occupations actually fell slightly in the same period (-3%). In the area of specialists, growth among foreign employees was over 100% and in the area of academics even 160%. The growth among Germans was significantly lower at 11 % and 35 % respectively. Without correspondingly qualified immigration, the demand for STEM specialists can therefore no longer be met.

Attracting more women to STEM

At just under 16%, women are still significantly underrepresented in STEM professions, even though the number of women employed in this field and subject to social insurance contributions rose by 2 percentage points between the end of 2012 and spring 2022. The BDA is therefore actively involved in the National Pact for Women in STEM Professions, for example. Gender-neutral career and study guidance is also key, as supported by the "stereotype-free" initiative, in which the BDA is also involved

Getting more young people interested in STEM - reducing dropouts

However, the foundation for more STEM specialists must be laid early on. All pupils must acquire sufficient basic skills in mathematics and science. In addition to mathematics, two scientific/technical subjects or computer science should be compulsory until graduation. In addition, STEM teacher training and further training must be reformed(BDA position paper on teacher training). Application-oriented and everyday teaching must become the norm. To this end, more cooperation with non-school partners (e.g. companies, science centers) should be entered into. Politicians and universities must also do everything they can to significantly reduce the above-average drop-out rate in STEM subjects, e.g. by improving the supervision rate and offering additional bridging courses to ease the transition from school to university. In general, vocational orientation at schools - including grammar schools - must be expanded to promote STEM vocational training more strongly.

MINT reporting provides facts and figures

Every six months in spring and fall, the IW Cologne publishes a comprehensive report on the future development of the STEM labor market and the development of the quality and quantity of STEM education in schools and universities on behalf of Gesamtmetall, BDA and the "MINT Zukunft schaffen" initiative. In this way, the industry measures the effectiveness of its numerous STEM activities on the one hand and whether the necessary change processes have taken place and are bearing fruit in politics, schools and universities on the other.

National MINT Forum - Working together for better MINT education
The BDA is involved in the National MINT Forum. More than 30 institutions have joined forces there to promote education in the fields of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology. The association was founded in 2012 on the initiative of acatech - National Academy of Science and Engineering and the initiative "MINT Zukunft schaffen" in close cooperation with the BDA.