The forces of existing STEM initiatives have come together for the first time to form a powerful national umbrella campaign. The aim is to foster interest in young people to pursue STEM training and professions. The national STEM campaign, co-initiated by digitalswitzerland and Pro Juventute also counts other partners, including ETH, SAV, and Swissmem and it is carried out in three national languages.
World changing career choices
STEM is part of the solution to face the challenges of the future. This includes exciting work to tackle climate change and health issues. Through pursuing a STEM profession, it’s possible to contribute to make the world a better place through academic activities or apprenticeships.
The advantage of STEM is that it spans a wide variety of professions. It also offers excellent career development opportunities with endless scope for interests. From an ICT perspective, students can learn cybersecurity and data science disciplines. There are also opportunities for a hands-on approach in the areas of civil engineering and infrastructure. When it comes to technology, machine tooling or innovative applied research might be of interest. It’s time to embrace a career path full of possibilities for growth and success.
Our whitepaper “Empfehlungen für gendersensible MINT-Angebote” (Recommendations for gender-sensitive STEM programmes) is live! Together with Prof. Dr. Bernadette Spieler from the University of Education Zurich, we have the pleasure of publishing this important contribution to the MINT topic. The whitepaper helps organisations and individuals dealing with STEM (science, engineering, technology, and mathematics) to recognise the potential of STEM disciplines.
5 September marked the kick-off of Swiss Digital Days 2022, which include more than 200 free offers for the population. The big highlight on opening day: the unveiling of a unique, Switzerland-wide crypto-art project in cooperation with Swiss Post. The study “Opportunity costs of the ICT skills shortage”, also published today by digitalswitzerland, once again highlights the importance of the Swiss Digitaltage, as it impressively shows the consequences of the skills shortage on Switzerland’s competitiveness in the medium to long term. To actively address this problem, a substantial part of the Digital Days programme revolves around the promotion of future skills of young talents, for example through the main format “NextGen: Future Skills Labs”.
digitalswitzerland and Pro Juventute look back at the STEM campaign 2020-2022. A career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) has obvious advantages: incredible potential for personal and professional development, good salaries, and a high chance to enter the job market quickly.
From the perspective of many parents, teachers, employers and the entire Swiss economy, young people choosing a STEM-career is a true no-brainer. But how do young people see it? How do they view themselves in this jungle of future professions, career possibilities and technological upheaval? Are we talking to them in the right way, with the right message and purpose?
Together with Pro Juventute, digitalswitzerland tried to answer these questions. We portrayed 12 role models from different sectors and jobs related to the STEM-field, with the aim of enticing young viewers to choose a career in STEM. From biotechnologists to ICT-professionals all the way to technicians and electricians, we featured them all. Now we are concluding our video campaign called “Future Skills – die Lösung bist du” / “Future Skills – La solution c’est toi (“Future Skills – the Solution is you”) with the aim of raising awareness and enticing young viewers to choose a career in STEM.
We want to take this opportunity to reflect back on some key insights and lessons from our journey…
What did we learn?
1. Show don’t tell
When you want to reach young people, you do not have to explain to them what STEM is; you have to show them, inspire them, tell stories and arouse emotions.
2. Make it relatable
We all prefer stories we can relate to; things that feel or are familiar to us. That applies also to the promotion of STEM-subjects and apprenticeships. If you want to show why being a service technician at Siemens is relatable, talk about the way this job can help to bring down the excessive use of energy in our buildings. If you try to explain the relevance of ICT-professions, show how they can help prevent train accidents, empower women or be of other value to society. The key question remains: what does it have to do with me?
3. Use the power of brevity and emotionality
If you have interesting content, you still need to package it well. It is not enough to have inspiring role models. Your message, if it should reach youth directly, needs to appeal to emotion (visually and content-wise) and have a short but attractive message, to which they can relate. Young people are active and “picky” users – the first few seconds determine if it’s a hit or a miss.
4. Communication channels matter
Don’t forget to entertain! When learning is entertaining, the reach is far greater. Depending on the channel you use, the form of entertainment differs greatly. TikTok and Instagram, prime channels for youth, tend to favour fast-paced and flashy content. Video Mashups with short and punchy messages work best there. Young people often don’t like switching channels. So if you want to reach them on Social Media, make sure all the relevant content is on one platform and is tailored to the audience and the channel. Listicles are effective for Blog formats, more often consumed by parents. On LinkedIn, home of all professionals, content thrives with interesting survey questions or entertaining anecdotes – and don’t forget: those professionals are often parents, too, the most important influence in a child’s career choice.
5. A crucial need is orientation
Among the key needs of youth is orientation. The critical juncture in their lives when they choose a profession is when we can make a difference with good orientation and guidance that doesn’t feel forced and top-down.
6. STEM is versatile and the field is wide open
Another important message and takeaway is that the jobs in STEM are versatile and open to many different personalities and profiles. Increasingly, a more diverse set of young people will enter the STEM-workforce – if we create the right conditions for them by removing barriers and making clear that their skills are valued and needed.
7. Invest time finding and promoting inspiring role models
This one is for the project managers out there: Peers are a great source of orientation and inspiration for young people. However, it is a challenge to find role models that fit all the criteria and that are available and willing to be featured in a campaign video. Creating a message that fits everyone and making the case for STEM is highly context-dependent. Sometimes, topics of gender and inclusion take centre stage. Other times, societal and global challenges like climate change or food security are at the forefront.
8. And remember: “No Man is an island” (John Donne)
Solutions in isolation don’t work. In digitalisation, the crux is that partial solutions have the potential to make the problem of the digital divide worse. Inclusive solutions are the only way forward. Only through a bundled effort can we make an impact that really makes Switzerland future-ready.
Want to know more about the STEM-Campaign and all things related to youth and future skills?
Bern, 26 January 2022 – Many Swiss companies are desperately seeking skilled workers. A targeted amendment to the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) is intended to make it easier for foreign graduates of Swiss universities to be employed in Switzerland in areas where there is a shortage of skilled workers. This was made possible by a motion from FDP National Councillor and digitalswitzerland Vice President Marcel Dobler.
Media contact: Andreas W. Kaelin, digitalswitzerland, Bern Office Phone +41 31 311 62 45 │ firstname.lastname@example.org
digitalswitzerland is pleased to present new researchconducted by AMOSA (Arbeitsmarktbeobachtung Ostschweiz, Aargau, Zug und Zürich) on career changers who choose to re-skill or upskill in ICT professions. digitalswitzerland concludes that career changers are an important segment of the ICT labour market that need more attention.
The problem of the shortage of skilled workers in ICT professions will not solve itself – new forms of career entry are needed. In this context, career changers are of great importance, as a new publication by AMOSA shows.
In 2020, around 243,000 people were employed in ICT occupations in Switzerland. Since 2010, ICT employment has seen an impressive growth of around 50%, compared to an average growth of only 10% in all non-ICT occupations. Despite this tremendous growth, there is a high demand for ICT professionals.
According to current forecasts by the Institute for Economic Studies (IWSB), the future demand for ICT specialists cannot be met either by immigration or by the Swiss education system. It is clear that lateral entrants are in demand. To create a sustainable path for a successful transition into the growing ICT industry, it is worth taking a look at some key figures.
High proportion of career changers in ICT professions
Career changers in ICT professions are surprisingly common. Only one in three ICT professionals originally started their careers in the same profession. While some of them came from related ICT professions, nearly half of ICT professionals began their careers outside the ICT field.
The significance of these figures can be seen in a direct comparison with other professions, which are also affected by a shortage of skilled workers: Among the 25 occupations with the highest shortage of skilled workers, the proportion of career changers reaches just 37 percentage points. This shows two things: First, ICT is and will remain a sector with a promising future. Second, the doors in ICT are open and the profiles are diverse.
Great variability between ICT professions
Although career mobility in ICT professions is widespread compared to other professions, there are still significant differences between the various ICT professions: Career changes are very common today, for example, among instructors in the field of information technology (proportion of career changers: 93%), managers in the field of ICT services (91%) or technicians for ICT operations and user support (86%). In contrast, graphic and multimedia designers are comparatively more likely to remain in their originally learned profession – only 42% are career changers.
Where do career changers come from?
A striking diversity of original occupations can be observed among career changers. Apart from workers who were initially trained in another ICT occupation, a significant proportion of today’s software and application developers or analysts originally began their careers in related technical fields, for example, as engineers (13%) or electrical installers and mechanics (3%), but also in non-technical occupations as office clerks (3%) or business administration specialists (3%).
Among those now working as ICT operations and user support technicians, transitions from other ICT occupations are common: Many workers originally learned a profession in software and application developers or analysts (10%) or other ICT professionals (8%). However, career changes from non-technical occupations such as office administrator (9%) or salesperson (3%) also occur relatively frequently.
A significant proportion of these occupational changes are transitions from occupations with similar skill levels and require retraining rather than upskilling. But transitions from occupations with lower or higher skill levels are not uncommon either – especially among those who now work as ICT operations and user support technicians. The fact is: with targeted re-skilling or upskilling, new pathways into IT can open up for less qualified employees.
Important factors: gender and age
While older age groups and women are (still) underrepresented in ICT occupations, they are more likely than younger age groups and men to have come to this field from occupations unrelated to the subject.
This is an indication of the urgency of promoting women in STEM fields (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences, technology). This is because women can be recruited for computer science even from professions outside the field: the potential for women to enter the field in Switzerland is therefore high. With targeted support for girls in STEM fields, this potential could be tapped at an earlier stage – turning career changers into entrants.The differences between the age groups can be explained primarily by the fact that older workers have been in the workforce longer and have therefore had more time for reorientation and further training. In addition, the hurdles for career changers may have increased in recent years due to more specific and higher job requirements.
This is why Lifelong learning becomes all the more important. The numbers show: The need is great, but so are the demands. But a career change is feasible.
How is digitalswitzerland supporting Lifelong Learning?
Ensuring a high-performing digital workforce of the future drives our activities. Education and lifelong learning sit at the heart of this. We are committed to offering easily accessible resources in upskilling, reskilling and training. We also work to spotlight the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) when it comes to our future skilled workforce. Supporting learners of all ages is a key commitment of our mission to make Switzerland a leading digital innovation hub.
More Information on AMOSA and their latest publications can be found here.
Three-quarters of the Swiss population want to improve their digital skills following their experiences with home office, distant learning and online shopping during the Corona pandemic.
For employees, this is also about participating in the digital transformation: Six out of ten respondents to a representative survey expect the Internet and technology to create new jobs. In view of such prospects, the basic attitude toward digitisation remains positive.