Pact to attract 10,000 more STEM candidates by 2025

The Danish government has launched a Technology Pact with more than 80 partners from higher education and research institutions, business organisations, non-profit organisations and private foundations.

The goal of the pact, signed on 24 April in the presence of ministers, is to encourage more young people to select science and technological studies at universities, the so-called STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The pact was signed by 80 participating institutions and aims to attract 250 participating members and increase the number of candidates selecting STEM subjects by 20%, or 10,000 candidates by 2025.

The background to the pact, which has been in preparation for a long time, is a survey that found that in 2017, out of 33,000 job announcements at private Danish companies, 25% were asking for STEM competencies.

The Technology Pact is a part of Denmark’s ‘Digital Growth Strategy’, agreed upon in parliament in February 2018. This strategy identifies 38 initiatives with the aim of making Denmark a digital frontrunner.

The event for the signing of the pact was attended by Minister of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs Brian Mikkelsen, together with Minister of Education Merete Riisager, Minister for Higher Education and Science Søren Pind and Minister for Employment Troels Lund Poulsen.

Minister Pind said that the date of 2 April this year had seen technological sciences at the top of the news and this was a good day to be minister of higher education and research because it was the day that the ASIM instrument was launched into space.

“The ASIM project is monitoring super-lightning in the universe and will give us more knowledge about the forces that are taking place there. This is the largest Danish space project ever. And it is a good example of what Denmark can achieve when business and universities cooperate in developing high technology.

“But the ASIM project is more than that. It is a breath-taking history about the major forces in the stratosphere. About the endless universe. About the making of the galaxies. A history that is waking up our fascination for natural sciences and technology.”

He said: “We must ignite a spark of interest in young people for natural sciences so that they apply for entry in education programmes within technology and IT: Therefore it is satisfying that we already have so many exciting projects [in the Technology Pact programme] – for example an IT camp for girls or development of virtual teaching technologies.”

“We need young people with STEM competencies so that we can create and promote technological knowledge in Denmark. This is the case also within IT and life sciences. And it is also the case within an area such as space and robot technology,” Pind said.

Resignation of popular minister

This was one of Pind’s last events as a popular and energetic minister of higher education and science. On 1 May he resigned with immediate effect from his post and from parliament after apparently becoming tired of politics.

The technology pact is going to be supervised by a 13-member council from industry, organisations and higher education institutions and chaired by the CEO of Netcompany, André Rogaczewski.

The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) has had this project on its wish list for several years and has taken inspiration from the Netherlands which has had a similar pact since 2013.

The government has allocated DKK75 million (US$12 million) for the project until 2021 and the technology pact is also supported by the major Danish foundation Novo Nordisk and the Lundbeck pharmaceutical company.

The Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen endorsed the Technology Pact by a video-greeting from Houston stating that since his early childhood he had wanted to become an astronaut and that the road to this was through an engineering degree, which he did not regret.