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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
→Watch the full playlist of Future Skills STEM-based videos
→Discover all of Pro Juventute’s activities.
And if you want to learn more about digitalswitzerland’s programmes in STEM-promotion? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org