"Europe needs more highly skilled, qualified and motivated individuals to push back the technological frontier in order to improve economic growth and employment," said Commission President José Manuel Barroso, welcoming the European Round Table of Industrialists' (ERT) initiative on 2 October.
Describing MST skills as the driving force of Europe's increasingly knowledge-based societies, Barroso stated: "We need to adapt our education and training systems so that they provide these skills alongside specific technical or vocational competences." This, he said, could only be done via continuous dialogue between business and education "to make sure that curricula meet employers' needs" and to ensure that students' ideas were "more easily transformed into economic and social value".
ERT Vice Chairman and Volvo Group CEO Leif Johansson said ERT member companies were committed to supporting Europe's schools, teachers and universities to "put MST into meaningful life and career contexts, provide access to role models and keep teachers informed of what MST careers are". He promised hat such engagement would be "long term".
According to the Commission, science education is key to innovation, with some 20 million new, high-skilled jobs expected to be created by 2020. Last year, an expert group at the EU executive recommended an overhaul of science teaching in European schools to fully harness potential and inspire future generations of science students.
The group called for a shift away from traditional, mainly deductive science teaching pedagogy to inquiry-based methods ('learning by doing') to combat young people's waning interest in science. To implement inquiry-based education methods and better motivate students, the group recommended that schools build relationships with companies, cities and other informal education stakeholders.