Fostering STEM skills: a top priority for Umicore
Making young people excited for science and engineering: how do you do that? And how do you ensure that they become true fans and really keen to develop their STEM skills? Umicore is putting all its energy into this via a wide range of initiatives.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Four fields that are crucial for our future. Digitalization, climate change, ageing of the population, the circular economy: all these challenges require new solutions. And for that, we need people with a feel for creativity, technology, innovation and science: people with a STEM profile.
They do not all have to be engineers. From process operators, electromechanics and installers to IT specialists, lab technicians and researchers: training in STEM opens the door to a wide range of occupations. Very often these are professions in high demand. In every sector, there is a ferocious search of all these STEM profiles. That includes at Umicore.
Umicore wishes to help find young people with STEM skills and to awaken their enthusiasm and prepare them for a relevant, future-oriented job. Because this fits with our passion for technology and innovation and with our social engagement.
In pursuit of our STEM mission, we are joining forces with other (government) organizations and companies as well as with educational institutions. By combining forces – and insights – we will reach the greatest number of young people and reach the best possible results.
'“Working together for a sustainable future” is no mere catchphrase at Umicore, but an objective towards we are working every day. To this end, we need colleagues who are at home in science, technology,
engineering and mathematics.’
Inge van Antwerpen,
Young Talent and Onboarding Manager at Umicore
From inspiring and discovering to doing
From a campaign that makes science appealing and initiatives that encourage young people to opt for STEM fields of study to a special STEM study programme: Umicore pulls out all the stops to make young people excited about STEM.
Inspire: Da’s Geniaal
‘Science is not just for nerds, aces or boys. It’s cool, and you can find it everywhere in your daily life’: that’s the main message of the Da’s Geniaal (“That’s genius”) campaign supported by Umicore.
Via fun facts, experiments and challenges – and by collaborating with influencers – we help children and youngsters aged 10 to 14 to explore various fields of science and engineering. An example? In this video, Thomas Creemers of Umicore shows TikTokker Aaron De Groeve how to generate energy with a battery, super magnets and copper wire.
To enable young people to discover the wide range of possibilities with a STEM education, Technopolis and the VRT launched #STEMhelden in 2020: a video platform in which child reporters interview young employees with a STEM degree. The common thread: how you can actively contribute to a better world with a practical or theoretical STEM degree.
Umicore’s #STEMhelden are also featured. In the Umicore video our colleagues Jolien, Annick and Tony explain how they help Umicore recycle germanium, a substance used in transistors, for example.
Technoteens get to know Umicore
Young people can have fun learning about how Umicore works during Technoteens, when the children and grandchildren of Umicore staff are immersed in the Umicore world for half a day.
Entertaining experiments show 28 Technoteens how STEM is part of our activities. Together they melt chocolate and transform a plastic bottle into a real mini water purification unit!
Do: STEM training in Nijlen
Through collaborations with the educational sector, Umicore further draws young people into the STEM bath. In the past, we had already developed teaching materials, but in 2021 we joined forces with Thomas More to develop the brand-new STEM study programme “Biological & chemical STEM sciences” for the Githo Nijlen secondary school. The training programme combines biology, chemistry and physics with a lot of space for applied scientific research.
Topics such as sustainability and recycling, which are closely aligned with what Umicore does, play a major role. In addition to supporting the development of the classes offered, Umicore also covered the refurbishment of the new classroom. For making STEM cool and attractive to young people also means giving the surroundings a new look.
This is a STEM job
Since autumn 2021, Umicore has also been supporting the “Dit is een STEM-job” (This is a STEM job) campaign at the VOKA Chamber of Commerce Antwerp-Waasland. By encouraging businesses to place the eye-catching STEM job logo on technical job advertisements, VOKA wishes to emphasize the wide range of future opportunities for people with a STEM degree. With this initiative, Umicore hopes not only to reach young people but also to encourage people with a career to go into STEM jobs.
‘Today, the term STEM is associated with school study programmes, but the vast potential of those types of training are still insufficiently well understood on the labour market. Labelling technical job advertisements as STEM jobs is an easy way to make the variety of jobs to which a STEM background can lead more visible.
CEO Chamber of Commerce Antwerp-Waasland