How are education, employability and research funding linked, and how can we ensure they are connected in a way that encourages equal opportunities for European chemical scientists? This was the topic for discussion at the EuChemS workshop ‘‘Chemical sciences for Horizon Europe, education and employability’’ in the European Parliament on 7 March, hosted by MEP Lambert van Nistelrooij. Representatives from the European Parliament, European Commission, academia and industry came together to discuss their perspectives and suggestions for the way forward.
The session’s topic based itself on the Employability Survey for European Chemists whose results were published in 2018. The survey displayed a range of issues, whether in terms of talent being inadequately supported, lack of opportunities for certain demographic groups, necessary skills not being taught to students or insufficient information being communicated to those moving from academia to industry. Speakers could therefore base themselves on some of the survey’s findings to look at which steps should be taken to improve the situation.
A number of core issues emerged from the talks, many of which were indeed repeated by the different speakers:
- The need for improved academia-industry collaboration
- Recognising the precursor role of high quality (higher) education
- Recognising the importance of closer collaboration on an equal basis across Europe and beyond
- Addressing gender bias in everyday practices
- The urgent need for better communication between all stakeholders
- Taking notice of the diminishing borders between different scientific disciplines
The variety of perspectives offered by the speakers ensured the session provided an encompassing overview of the issues that exist but also different ways forward. Ultimately, the EU can encourage and provide quality opportunities for scientists, but the right environment needs to be fostered. Only with the involvement of all stakeholders, that talk to each other, listen, and perhaps more pertinently, hear each other, can we ensure results that move in the right direction.
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