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Press release

Why do our youth stay out of scientific careers? New EU-wide data


Science -- no thanks? According to Europe’s citizens, boring school classes and missing prospects in the science sector are key reasons for the decreasing interest of Europe’s young people in scientific studies and careers.

 'TOO BORING, TOO COMPLICATED, NO PROSPECTS'...

Europe’s youth is very interested in science when it comes to internet developments (53.8%). However, less and less young Europeans are interested in scientific studies and careers. What are the main reasons for this?

According to a new EU-wide survey, more than half of the Europeans (59.5%, both younger and older) think that first of all, science lessons at school are not appealing enough. Another explanation, put forward closely behind (55%), is that science subjects are too difficult. Salaries and career prospects in the field of science ranks third: 42.5% consider them to be insufficiently attractive. Interestingly, the money argument is less frequently put forward by the youth themselves than by the overall respondents (40% as opposed to 41.8%).
 

 THE DISINTEREST IN SCIENTIFIC CAREERS: A THREAT FOR EUROPE ?

Although the Europeans seem to have strong opinions regarding jobs and careers in the scientific field, less than half of the surveyed (42.2%) thinks that the disinterest in scientific careers is threatening Europe’s future socio-economic development. And when asked about what to do against the disinterest in science careers, 60.3% believe in authorities and policies. There are also quite a lot of people highlighting that 'nothing should be done' (44.8%): 'Individual freedom of choice is more important than the needs of society and industry'.

 'I AM POORLY INFORMED ABOUT SCIENCE'

Two thirds of European citizens asked consider themselves poorly informed, and a significant proportion (14.7%) would be interested in receiving more information. However, 45.8% of citizens surveyed declare to be neither informed nor interested in scientific issues.

 WHAT SOLUTION?

Europe’s people basically see two ways out of the disinterest in scientific careers:

Firstly, encouraging girls and young women to undertake studies in science (70.8%). This view is mainly supported by the women themselves, the highly educated ones in particular (81.2% of women with a high knowledge index level). Girls who are currently studying support it by 66.8%.

Secondly, a majority of the Europeans surveyed (63.1% ) are in favour of integrating foreign scientists further into the EU.

These statistics are the results of interviews carried out with 16000 citizens from the 15 EU Member States at the initiative of the European Commission DG Research. The full survey is published in the December EUROBAROMETER report 'Europeans, Science and Technology'. All results, as well as the new Commission Action Plan 'Science and Society', 
can be consulted at:
http://ec.europa.eu/research/press/2001/pr0612en.html  

For further information and the facilitation of interviews, please contact: 
Michel Claessens,
 
Information and Communication Unit, 
Research DG  
Tel: +32-2-295.99.71  Fax:+32-2-295.82.20  
E-mail: michel.claessens@ec.europa.eu

              

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