How to attract young talents to the engineering sciences – Organization 4ING discusses strategies at the University of Kassel
The conference brings together representatives from almost all university faculties of engineering and computer science in Germany. High-ranking representatives such as VDI President Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lutz Eckstein, acatech President Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Wörner and TU9 President Prof. Dr. Angela Ittel will be present as guests and actively involved in the panel discussion.
Prof. Dr. Ute Clement, President of the host University of Kassel, warmly welcomed the participants in advance. "Engineers are urgently needed for the challenges ahead of us, for example in climate protection and digitalisation. It is important for us at University of Kassel to inspire young women and men for this field of study," she said. "I am pleased that 4ING is visiting Kassel to advise us on this topic." At the University of Kassel, almost 1000 people graduate in engineering every year. One of the focal points of the university in northern Hesse is its connection with sustainability topics. In the course of the new Kassel Institute for Sustainability, the university will establish more engineering degree programmes with a sustainability profile in the coming years.
"We have talked enough about the growing problems, now we have to specifically identify possible solutions and then implement them," says 4ING Chairman Prof. Dr.-Ing. Olaf Wünsch, who is also head of the fluid mechanics department at the University of Kassel. He is referring to the ever-widening gap between the continuously declining interest in studying engineering and computer science and the simultaneously increasing demand for appropriately qualified academic professionals in industry. According to the latest DeStatis figures for the winter semester 2022/2023, the number of first-year students in computer science and mechanical engineering, for example, rose slightly by 1.5 percent compared to the previous year, but in civil engineering courses it fell again by almost four percent. In contrast, the shortages of academic specialists are increasing, especially in the energy and electrical professions or in mechanical and automotive engineering, as the MINT Spring Report 2023 of the Institute of the German Economy (IW) shows. Women are still underrepresented: while there are still 46 percent women in natural science subjects such as biology or chemistry, there are just 10 percent in engineering professions such as energy and electrical engineering or in metal professions.
"To attract more young people to our engineering and computer science courses, we need to know more about their motives. For this reason, we asked them in a trend survey how they inform themselves, what encouraged or also demotivated them to choose an engineering or computer science subject," explains Wünsch. Young people who are at the beginning of their engineering or computer science studies were surveyed. According to their answers, young people decide to study engineering or computer science mainly because of personal contacts. Parents and teachers, but above all peers, exerted the greatest influence on the decision. Almost two thirds decide at the end of their school years. In their view, the website of the faculty or department is the best instrument for attracting young people to study - especially when students and their experiences are in the foreground. YouTube videos follow at some distance. The young people would like to see a separate website for prospective students, which would provide information about the content of the degree programme as well as the costs of the degree programme and potential professions. The results will be presented for the first time at the conference.
The conclusion of 4ING Chairman Wünsch: "Universities, professional societies, associations, business and politics are now obliged to act - each in their own area of responsibility and in concerted coordination with each other. The universities must emphasise the importance of their education for securing the future and reflect this in the curriculum, the associations and professional societies must improve the image of the corresponding occupational fields through information campaigns, the economy must offer attractive and family-friendly working models, and politics, namely the education ministries of the Länder, must open up teaching for engineering and information technology topics."
The umbrella association "Fakultätentage der Ingenieurwissenschaften und der Informatik an Universitäten" (4ING) represents 140 faculties, departments and divisions at 60 universities and technical universities in Germany. These faculties provide more than 90 percent of the university courses in civil engineering, geodesy; mechanical engineering, process engineering; electrical engineering, information technology and computer science.
The detailed results of the survey are available at 4Ing, see below for contact details.
Contact for 4ING:
Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Olaf Wünsch
University of Kassel
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Tel.: 0561-804 3878
Fax: 0561-804 2720
Ass. iur. Heike Schmitt
Tel.: 06151-950 51 35
Fax: 06151-950 35 97