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Innovative ways to make science education and scientific careers attractive to young people


Specific challenge:

The Union needs all its talents to boost creativity and competitiveness. It needs an innovative science education which shall enable todays' and tomorrows' citizens to play a more active role in the Research and Innovation process, to make informed choices and to engage in a democratic, knowledge-based society. It needs young boys and girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), while at the same time adhering to the values embedded in Responsible Research and Innovation. In such a manner, the Union will reach the objective of a R&D intensity of 3% of GDP which is essential. Yet it has been increasingly difficult to attract adequate numbers of young people, to these domains and to avoid a brain-drain of talent from Europe. Therefore, a shift to innovative and effective methods is necessary, so as to raise the attractiveness of science education and scientific careers and boost the interest of young people in STEM.


The action aims to support a range of activities, which will raise young boys' and girls' awareness of the different aspects encompassing science and technology in their societal content and to address the challenges faced by young people when pursuing careers in STEM. It aims at bringing both girls and boys into the scientific world via formal and informal teaching and learning and to orient them towards undertaking scientific careers. In order to be more attractive, research careers should also be more closely linked to labour market needs. In this context, the potential orientation towards more entrepreneurial and multidisciplinary research careers should be recognised. The proposals shall focus on innovative, forward-looking science education methods and/or on incentives and measures to make scientific and technological careers attractive to young students, including actions addressing the challenges in offering long term career perspectives. They may inter alia make young people work with open-access educational resources; become familiar with the use of science media; make the link between creativity and science; appreciate the relevance of gender balance and dimension in research; understand the practical value of research ethics and integrity; actions.

The proposals shall also foster sustainable and cross-cutting interaction between the different levels of the education system, research institutions and other establishments, industry, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Such proposals shall improve the attractiveness of science education and scientific careers to young people; address challenges in offering long term career perspectives, as well as raise awareness of the importance of trans-disciplinary research and Responsible Research and Innovation in the education system.

The establishment of a link with SCIENTIX – The Community for Science Education in Europe – is strongly encouraged, since it consists of a multidimensional educational tool and would assist in spreading out STEM practices and better understanding of the relation between science and technology in practical terms.

When the proposed activities include scientific and technical work it should be implemented as a Research and Innovation Action, otherwise as a Coordination and Support Action

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1 and 1.8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in line with the conditions set out in Part K of the General Annexes.

Expected impact:

In the short term, the action will coordinate and leverage Member States activities with respect to innovative approaches in the field of science education and scientific careers. In the medium term, the action will position EU research teams on the map as leaders in innovative science education methods and meeting Europe's targets regarding R&D intensity and competiveness. It will increase the number of researchers and innovators, including women, in the public sector and in industry who will be able to better address societal challenge. As a result, in the long term, the action will contribute towards achieving the Europe 2020 education target by improving STEM skills among young people – less than 15% of pupils under-performing by 2020 – and increasing the range of innovative products that reflect societal needs.

Type of action: Research and Innovation Actions; Coordination and Support Actions.