1.1. Concept and approach, quality of the coordination and support measures
1.3.1. Concept & Motivation It is an acknowledged fact that Europe has an aging population and while Eurostat analysis shows the numbers of students graduating university with STEM qualification has remained stable across the EU in recent years (22.3% of all graduates in 2006 and 22.8% of graduates in 2012) this has not been sufficient to overcome expected shortfalls in industry in the medium to long term. The Eurostat analysis shows that in Germany for example in 2012 (arguably the leading country in terms of STEM graduates in the EU) despite nearly 30% of all graduates having a STEM qualification there was a shortage of 200,000 STEM graduates (mainly engineers) costing the economy 20 billion Euros a year. It is interesting to note that this trend is the same for the US with the added worry that the number of students who enter engineering programmes is actually projected to drop; a projection that many believe will have a negative impact on the U.S. workforce in the future (Christian D. Schunn, 2009). Indeed research by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) found that despite the recession and high unemployment across the EU since 2008 that demand for Science and Engineering Professionals in the EU has remained resilient with employment is the sector 12% higher in 2013 than in 2000 with 6.6 million Science and Engineering professional employed in the EU28 in 2013. This employment growth is forecast to continue until at least 2025 with an increase of 6.5% forecast between 2013 and 2025.
The shortfall between the demand for qualified STEM professionals and the number of EU students studying and graduating with STEM qualifications has many ramifications for the well-being of the European competitive position, particularly considering that the new emerging economies such as China, India and Korea are surging ahead at an astonishing rate. It is also well-known that many engineering graduates, especially the brightest ones, are gravitating to financial and commercial professions due to better salaries and working conditions.
The UK Government Department for Business Innovation and Skills in a 2011 report titled ‘STEM Graduates in Non STEM Jobs’ found that about only one in 8 University final year STEM students did not want to pursue a STEM career, yet this employers cite students higher salary expectations from Non-STEM jobs as a major factor for students not entering STEM jobs upon graduation along with poor STEM career pathway awareness among students as despite student intentions more than the above 1 in 8 end up not working in a STEM field after graduation. As well as poor tale up of STEM qualifications, the fact that STEM graduates have poor career awareness and often choose to enter non STEM jobs is another cause for concern for the engineering sectors which are starved by lack of science and engineering graduates.