Getting the next generation passionate about science and entrepreneurship

 

The science sector in Luxembourg has developed enormously over the last decades. Significant funding has been and continues to be invested in the sector, and modern infrastructure has been established. In an opinion piece, FNR Secretary General Marc Schiltz discusses how one piece of the puzzle is still missing in the quest to transform Luxembourg’s knowledge economy vision into reality.

In his speech for the 100th anniversary of FEDIL, Nicolas Buck declared science and technology to be key elements in the future of industry. Technology, said the President of FEDIL, is based on knowledge and on scientific results. He added that talent is needed in order to build on and understand these results. Talent that can build bridges between science and technology. Additionally, an entrepreneurial mindset is required to implement new technologies into the economy.

I agree 100% with Nicolas Buck – the main resources needed for Luxembourg’s future is a combination of entrepreneurial spirit and brainpower.

The science sector in Luxembourg has developed enormously over the last two decades. Regardless of who has been in Government, there has always been consensus that science and research both have an important role to play in the future development of Luxembourg.

Constantly increasing funding that successive Governments have invested in this sector highlights this. The recently approved 4-year multiannual contracts of the public research institutions come with a 25% increase in budget – emphasising the importance of research and science in Luxembourg.

The situation in Luxembourg is in a sense unique in Europe. There is constant public investment in excellent infrastructure, which makes it possible to become champions in individual domains. One development, which is also widely supported by Luxembourg’s residents, was highlighted in a survey from 2017: 56% of respondents asserted they want more investment in research, while 60% said research raises the level of knowledge, even if it not immediately implemented.

Thus, the future looks bright in terms of establishing Luxembourg as the innovation and knowledge society we strive for. Unfortunately, there is a cloud hanging over this bright future: We are not able to get enough young people for careers in science, technology and IT.

There are likely many reasons for this: A school system that still does not fully appreciate the importance of these subjects, despite the many efforts that have been made over the last few years.

An uneven playing field, where Luxembourgish nationals are more comfortable working in the public sector than in the private sector.

There is also the fact that many young people are simply not aware that a range of careers that appear attractive today – for example in the banking and finance sector – will either be completely changed or even made obsolete by digital transformation.

If we do not succeed in getting the best of the new generation, especially women, excited about and interested in science, technology and entrepreneurship, then we will not be able to turn the vision of the knowledge economy into reality – despite the good funding and modern infrastructure in Luxembourg.


This opinion piece was originally published as a ‘Carte Blanche’ on rtl.lu in February 2018 (in Luxembourgish)

Marc Schiltz

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