The challenges of STEM in Europe's education systems

Although Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are widely regarded as critical to national economies, so far most countries across the globe are struggling to reduce the current STEM skills shortage. This also applies to Europe, as according to the latest comparative report of the PISA 2022 study, published by the European Commission in February 2024 with a focus on the EU perspective, shockingly, 30% of EU students fail to reach minimum proficiency levels in mathematics, with similar trends observed in reading and science.

Moreover, the report also sheds light on the challenges facing Europe's STEM education system in terms of inequalities. Nearly half of all students from disadvantaged backgrounds are underachieving in mathematics. The COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated these issues, widening educational inequalities and threatening future STEM talent pipelines in the European Union.

In recent years, the call for gender equality in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields has grown louder. Despite significant strides in education and workforce participation, women and girls remain underrepresented in these critical sectors. As the world celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, it's imperative to examine the European perspective on addressing this disparity and fostering a more inclusive STEM landscape.


Attracting More Students to STEM one of the core values of Scientix

Recognising the urgent need to reverse these trends, European initiatives like Scientix, led by European Schoolnet, is at the forefront of efforts to attract more students, to STEM studies and careers. Founded in 2010, Scientix aims to promote STEM talent and highlight the vital role of science in our daily lives by integrating STEM teaching and learning with real-world challenges like sustainability, thus making these disciplines more engaging and relevant to students.


Central to Scientix's mission is the annual Scientix STEM Discovery Campaign, a collaborative initiative that celebrates careers and studies in STEM fields, as well as the importance that STEM has in our lives. This international campaign, running from February to April every year, brings together educators, organisations, schools, and other stakeholders to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals. Partnering with projects like Life Terra, for the 2024 STEM Discovery Campaign, Scientix creates a platform for hands-on learning and exploration, sparking curiosity and enthusiasm for STEM subjects.


Empowering STEM Through Collaboration and Inspiration: STEM Alliance and Scientix TV

Another pivotal initiative within the Scientix community is the STEM Alliance, which addresses the low interest in STEM careers and declining performance in traditional STEM learning. By fostering collaborations with industry partners, the STEM Alliance bridges the gap between education and employment, providing students with the skills and opportunities needed to thrive in STEM fields. Through partnerships with European Ministries of Education, educators, and industry stakeholders, the STEM Alliance creates a holistic ecosystem that supports STEM education at all levels.

In parallel, Scientix TV plays a vital role in promoting STEM education by showcasing inspiring stories, innovative projects, and engaging experiments. Past episodes, such as those celebrating events like International Women's Day, highlighted initiatives like the GEM project and the Robogirls project, which empower women and girls in STEM through activities like summer camps and robotics. They also featured activities encouraging girls' participation in STEM fields, concluding with a science experiment for young children providing captivating hands-on learning experiences.

"STEM is everywhere from the moment we wake up in the morning to when we go to bed at night.. It is easy to take it for granted and we need to do everything we can to give it the credit it deserves and get more students to follow STEM careers and more importantly, help everybody see how STEM improves our lives"

Dr Agueda Gras-Velazquez, Science Programme Manager | Head of the Science Education Department at European Schoolnet

As Europe struggles with the challenge of achieving gender equality in STEM, initiatives like Scientix and the STEM Alliance offer promising solutions. By inspiring and empowering new students, with independence of their socio-economic background or gender to pursue STEM studies and careers, these initiatives are not only addressing the current skills shortage but also laying the foundation for a more diverse and innovative future.