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How to repair the leaky STEM pipeline?

In the Netherlands, there is a huge shortage of STEM-trained professionals. Furthermore, the current enrolment of students in STEM education in the Netherlands is low compared to that of most other western countries. The research institute KBA Nijmegen and the Department of OMD of the University of Twente have conducted a large-scale research about the so-called “leaky STEM pipeline”. It is a metaphor for the trajectory from early interest in STEM and enrolment in STEM programmes to the first steps into the labour market. “Leaky” refers to the loss of students’ initial interest in STEM during their school career.

The research project consisted of six studies exploring when and why students drop out of STEM education and how the number of students leaving STEM education could be reduced. The main conclusion is that the participation in STEM education and STEM related professions should still be high on the agenda of Dutch policymakers in both education and emancipation. Especially in pre-vocational education the leakage turned out to be worse for girls than for boys. One suggestion is that students (including their parents) should be introduced to STEM as soon as possible in education, preferably starting in primary education.

The project “How to repair the leaky STEM pipeline?” was funded by The Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO/NWO). Project manager is Annemarie van Langen (KBA Nijmegen). Contact person for the University of Twente is Martina Meelissen (Department OMD).

The infographics and all reports (mostly in Dutch) can now be found online: