Should high quality STEM education be the top priority?

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The debate begins with the presentation of some relevant facts, such as that the top companies worldwide are technological (Microsoft, Apple, Google…), that 75% of the new professions will require STEM skills, that more than 750,000 digital jobs have not been filled in 2019 in Europe or that 40% of companies cannot find candidates with the skills they require, leading to an unemployment rate of more than 15.% among young people. This is clearly a collective failure in society. Facebook’s Director of Education, Adam Seldow, believes that the responsibility for closing this technology skills gap lies at all levels of education. There is a need to redirect instructional models of teaching, to focus on the preparation of teachers, who have few options for creativity and project-based learning, and to pay attention to diversity in society. Co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, Andrew Meltzoff, argues that stereotypes need to be changed from the earliest stages, making students see that they can be successful in STEM disciplines through experience, training, practice and that they are also collaborative and team-based disciplines, contrary to the widespread thinking around these disciplines. The CEO and co-founder of Ironhack, Gonzalo Manrique, considers that this thinking is imposed from very early stages, and it is necessary to impose the idea that one can be good at Humanities, for example, and become a good developer. This way of thinking should be changed from the top down, i.e. from universities, business and government, to offer more options in education so that the path to employment can be accelerated and skills gaps closed. During the round table, they present different points of view on the importance of programming, the enormous difference in access to scientific disciplines – much greater for men than for women – how teachers can be helped to integrate technologies into their curricula, or whether machines will come to perform inherently human tasks, such as strategic thinking. To conclude, they explain some of the most in-demand professions (Big Data architect, software engineer, cybersecurity analyst, programmer, among others). Following the thread, Adam Seldow talks about the creation of the next Virtual and Augmented Reality platform that Facebook is developing, which implies more professions of the future, such as 3D design, mapping of the virtual world, etc.

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