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Anni Siltanen: Europe can’t compete without STEM skills

Europe has set a very ambitious European Green Deal target for climate. We in the Finnish chemical industry have an even more ambitious goal to reach: according to our Carbon Neutrality Vision of January 2019, we want to be a carbon neutral industry sector by 2045. This is going to require a whole different approach to looking at the strategic skills and competence as well; the future talent is going to do no less but to shape the future of one of the largest industry sectors in Europe.

Finding the right talent for the European industry is a challenge in itself as the sector struggles with poor attractiveness. The number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students is decreasing in most EU countries while at the same time many of the big companies are already struggling to find the right skills to fit the right position. To positions that shape the future of the European industry, European Green Deal and European competitiveness.

To fill the skills gap, we need to take this issue seriously. We need both policy makers and industry representatives working together to ensure the message is loud and clear: We need to focus on skills and competence in order to further foster the competitiveness of European industry. We need a clear, common-European strategic focus in STEM and a boost for innovation. We need clear mechanisms to re-skill and up-skill the work force, as well as a clear framework to acknowledge skills and competence achieved – both within and outside Europe. This will make it easier for talent to move to where it’s needed most. Last but not least: We need to look at the skills and competence issue as a common European issue – even if educational politics is and will be a national competency in each member state of the European Union. Local issues need to be perceived as part of the global issues.

I would like to invite both the industry and policy makers to shape the future of Europe together. The Chemical Industry Federation of Finland is happy to further foster that dialogue – it all comes down to one common goal: keeping Europe on top of global competition!

Anni Siltanen

Senior Advisor, Skills and Competence