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essenscia and Vlajo (Flemish Young Entrepreneurs) have joined forces as part of STEMfluencers, a new project to attract more boys and girls to a fantastic future in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). From academic year 2021-2022, young people from the sector provide guest lessons in the first level of secondary school in order to inspire youngsters to embrace the wonderful world of technology, chemicals and science.

All studies and surveys clearly show that businesses, particularly in the chemicals, plastics, pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, desperately need young and diverse STEM enthusiasts with technical or scientific backgrounds. Nevertheless, too few young people choose a STEM course or profession because they lack a clear overview of future opportunities or have insufficient confidence in the diversity of the jobs which could be available after their courses.

That is why essenscia and Vlajo started the STEMfluencers project. Young employees from the chemicals and life sciences sectors will reach out to secondary school children to talk about their jobs and the studies they completed, set out their view of the sector and elaborate on their personal visions of sustainability and the solutions that companies in this sector could offer for a range of social challenges relating to the climate or health.

STEM Entrepreneurs in the Classroom enable 2,000 pupils to discover the sector

STEMfluencers is complementary to the project STEM Entrepreneurs in the Classroom, which has also been organised in collaboration with Vlajo. The latter, however, allows CEOs and managers from the sector to have their say. This enables pupils to learn about the sector from various perspectives.

STEM Entrepreneurs in the Classroom provided 60 guest lessons in schools across Flanders over the 2020/2021 academic year. Thanks to their efforts, 2,000 pupils have been able to familiarise themselves with the many innovations and future opportunities in the chemical industry and life sciences sector.