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Report on the Prioritization of Skills and Competences Required by Future Engineers as part of A-STEP 2030 project

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Abstract

This document reports on the outcomes of three separate studies 1) Universum’s study about university students’ and graduates’ different aspects of their career expectations and their ideal employers. 2) On-line-survey of 16-year-old pupils in Finland: Self-assessment tool: How much of an engineer are you? 3) Outcomes from two BEST (Board of European Students of Technology) symposia about Diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in 2019 as part of the A-STEP 2030 project (EU Erasmus + project funded under call number 2018-1-FR01-KA203-047854). The aim of the Universum study was to carry out EU mapping of future engineering profession with the values of engineering students of today. The data for this analysis was collected from responses to the Universum survey between September 2018 and April 2019. The data used in this study was collected from 6 countries; Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland and Sweden. Three questions were selected for the study: 1) which of these career goals are most important to you? (Select 3) 2) how do you rate yourself in the following skills? (Select 3 strong skills and 3 weak skills) 3) which of these employer attributes are most important to you? (Select 3). For each question, the differences between male and female engineering students, engineering and humanities students and students from generation Y and Z were investigated in six target countries. This analysis is included in Report 3. This report R4 presents a more detailed view and comparison between Denmark, Finland, France and Ireland. The key findings show that there are differences between countries among engineers, among humanities students and among generations Z (age 17 to 22) and Y (age 23 to 38). Generally, it can be said that there is a tendency among students in all countries to rate issues surrounding environmental and social responsibility as more important than economic issues, issues which certainly had formerly been accorded greater prominence. Especially humanities students - but also female engineering students - rated these environmental and social responsibility issues very highly among their career goals and attractive employer attributes. The other difference between humanities and engineering students’ attitudes was that the goal: “To be a leader or manager of people” was, in all studied countries, more important to engineering students than to humanities students. All students rated the career goal “Work/life balance” as very important and - at the same time - all of them said that their weakest soft skill was “Time management”. The other weakest soft skill common to all students was “Integrity”. Concerning “Communication” skills, there still seems to be room for development for all students - even though humanities students trust themselves more than engineering students in this regard. Engineering students think that their strongest soft skills are “Problem-solving”, “Responsibility” and “Teamwork”, while humanities students consider their strongest soft skills to be: “Responsibility”, “Positive attitude” and “Adaptability”. Regarding “Responsibility”, the younger generation Z looks to be a bit more responsible than the older Generation Y. For the humanities students - “To be dedicated to a cause or to feel that I am serving a greater good” was the most important career goal. Nearly two thirds of all humanities students selected this career goal from among the three most important ones. On the contrary, only slightly more than one third (35,1%) of engineering students rated this goal among their three most important. Among engineering students in all studied countries, “Commitment to diversity and inclusion” and “Corporate social responsibility” were the two least attractive employer attributes. For this group, on average, the most important work attribute was “Innovation”, the second most important being “A creative and dynamic work environment” and the third most important “Professional training and development”. The Finnish 16-year-old pupils’ attitudes towards the Sustainable Development Goals - according to the on-line-survey completed by Metropolia University of Applied Sciences - showed that the most important SDG to them was “Good Health and Well-Being”. Also, more than 60% of pupils had selected “Quality Education”, “Zero Hunger” and “Climate Action” among the three most important Sustainable Development Goals. The least votes were accorded to the following: “Sustainable Cities and Communities”, “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”, “Decent Work and Economic Growth”, and “Affordable and Clean Energy”. Over 75 % of pupils wanted to promote SDGs. Pupils were also asked about their willingness to learn the following: a) skills needed for sustainable development, b) problem solving skills, c) interpersonal skills, d) skills to work responsibly and d) time management skills. The survey indicated that most of the pupils recognized the need for all the skills mentioned, while only a very small number accorded them no importance at all. According to their responses, most of the pupils were willing to work in groups, ready to apply technology, and prepared to solve challenging problems in multicultural environments. The various ideas and recommendations from BEST’s two symposia about Diversity in STEM education is presented in chapter 7. Diversity can be seen to play a key role in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that’s why it is important to take it into account in developing engineering education. According to BEST’s results, the ten most important skills for STEM graduates are: critical thinking, analytical skills, problem solving, innovation, collaboration, communication, customer orientation, adaptability, social responsibility and balance. The skills needed in STEM professions - according to BEST - are: teamwork (25.5 %), ability to learn (17.6 %), adaptability (17.6 %), communication (11.8 %), Leadership (5.9 %) and versatility (5.9 %). The findings of all these three studies will be published as Intellectual Output 2 of the A-STEP 2030 project.
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hal-03469330 , version 1 (04-01-2022)

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Lehtinen Riitta, Antti Piironen, Klara Kövesi, Mélanie Cantrel, Una Beagon, et al.. Report on the Prioritization of Skills and Competences Required by Future Engineers as part of A-STEP 2030 project. [Research Report] Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences; ENSTA Bretagne; Universum; TU Dublin; Aalborg universitet (Denmark). 2020, pp.1-70. ⟨hal-03469330⟩
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