The partnership of this project, composed of 10 partners, from 6 different countries, is a well balanced and strong one, as it involves schools, vet schools, universities, SMEs and Order/association of Engineers. All partners are well aware of the respective responsibility in accepting working together in this project and knows what their role is, during the 3 years of project development.
The present project addresses a common European need related to the lack of qualified staff within technical and engineering professional areas, especially women. A report by the OECD’s Global Science Forum shows that, as a proportion of all enrolments, enrolments in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) areas have been falling for a prolonged period across much of the developed world including most regions in Europe. Supply and demand need to grow together and Engine4F centres on this key concept and on how we can couple both elements together in a programme for growth, therefore meeting the priorities defined in Europe 2020 Strategy related to the importance of orienting our actions towards the future, in order to achieve economic growth and sustainability. It also intends, indirectly and in the future, to increase labour market relevance of VET courses, specially attracting girls into more technical VET areas so that a balance of gender is also achieved.
Aware that the development of the economy depends on an upturn within these areas, our project aims at intervening among 8th and 9th grade students – and female students in particular. At this age and period in the academic life, students still have the time to learn from experience and to be well informed by the time they have to choose a career area or a VET course (at the end of the 9th grade). By increasing the exposure to technical areas and engineering professions and by promoting the learning of STEM related subjects through creative and innovative teaching practices, to be included in the subjects of Sciences, Maths, Physics and Chemistry, we will also contribute, among others, to deconstruct gender stereotypes, promote gender equality within these areas, increase labour market relevance of VET courses and review negative pre-conceived ideas related to VET learning paths.
ENGINE4F supports an “Awareness > Action Plan” methodology in the first two years and the study of the impact in the third year of its application, followed by the development of a set of activities, separated by area, related to STEM subjects and to be implemented in Sciences, Maths, Chemistry and Physics classes, as a way to complement them and to enhance student’s motivation and predisposition for learning. Two different subject areas will be assigned to each partner/country.
Activities within this methodology will result in an e-manual and will continue to be held after the end of the project. This e-manual will be always updated, involving more schools and more students.
The project will also comprise the creation of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which will act as a portal giving information on career areas, the curricula of engineering/technical areas, examples of career opportunities within each area, professional profiles, possibility to upload or download documents, etc.
At the end of this project it is expected that not only the number of female students and students in general pursuing VET courses focusing on engineering/technical areas increase, but also preconceived negative ideas related to VET courses and engineer career opportunities will decrease. A better understanding of employment opportunities related to these areas, along with better knowledge of STEM subjects and increased motivation for learning Maths, Physics, Sciences and Chemistry, development of soft-skills leading to decision-making, problem-solving, etc. (through activities implemented also in each school of the partnership), is also expected.
The project will also allow to improve partners’ linguistic, management and organisation skills, reinforce possible future partnerships between schools, Universities, Enterprises and other Stakeholders. Ultimately, the partnership hopes to contribute to a fairer local labour market regarding gender-biased attitudes and employment, helping students to better plan their future.