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

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

The shortage of workers with scientific and technical qualifications, which already exists today, is impairing the ability of companies in Germany to innovate. Although the STEM labor and skills gap (difference between the number of reported vacancies and the number of reported unemployed in the STEM segment) has narrowed considerably 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 applies in particular to electrical and energy occupations, the IT sector, but also to mechanical and automotive engineering, for example. However, long-term employment trends are also evident: the number of IT professionals increased by almost 70% from the end of 2012 to spring 2022. Among academic occupations, the increase in the IT sector was even significantly higher at over 110%. STEM professionals are therefore still in urgent demand.

Immigration secures demand for skilled workers

The extent of the need for STEM specialists is also evident from 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 over the same period (-3%). In the area of specialists, growth among foreign employees was over 100% and in the area of academics as much as 160%. The growth among Germans was much lower at 11% and 35% respectively. Without corresponding qualified immigration, the demand for STEM specialists can therefore no longer be met.

Attracting more women to STEM

Women are still significantly underrepresented in STEM professions at just under 16%, even though the number of women employed in this field subject to social insurance contributions increased by 2 percentage points from the end of 2012 to spring 2022. The BDA is therefore actively involved in the National Pact for Women in STEM Professions, for example. Another key factor is gender-neutral career and study guidance, 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 professionals must be laid early on. All students must acquire sufficient basic competencies in mathematics and science. In addition to mathematics, two science/technology subjects or computer science should be compulsory throughout until graduation. In addition, STEM teacher training and continuing education must be reformed(BDA position paper on teacher training). Application-oriented and everyday teaching must become the norm. To this end, more cooperation should be entered into with non-school partners (e.g., companies, science centers). Policymakers and universities must also do everything they can to significantly reduce the above-average dropout rate in STEM subjects, e.g., through an improved supervision rate and additional bridge courses that facilitate the transition from school to university. In general, STEM vocational training must be promoted more strongly by expanding vocational orientation at schools - including high schools.

MINT reporting provides facts and figures

Every six months in spring and fall, the IW Cologne, commissioned by Gesamtmetall, BDA and the "MINT Zukunft schaffen" initiative, presents a comprehensive report on the future development of the STEM labor market and on the development of the quality and quantity of STEM education in schools and universities. In this way, the industry is measuring 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, information technology, natural sciences and technology. The association was founded in 2012 on the initiative of acatech - the German Academy of Science and Engineering and the "MINT Zukunft schaffen" initiative in close cooperation with the BDA.