StartNet Europe had the pleasure to host Hans van der Loo, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Institute For Integrated Economic Research, Switzerland, and Co-founder of the EU STEM Coalition, for an online keynote on the role of STEM disciplines for young people's career path and the green transition of Europe.

Mr. Van der Loo emphasized the importance of sySTEMic thinking and its role in addressing major societal challenges, stressing the need for STEM education to build the capacities to deal with complexity and change. He shared concerns about functional illiteracy in Europe, as high a 20% amongst 15 year olds, and the importance of basic literacy and numeracy competencies. In a digital age where information is readily available, one of the first skills young people (and children) should develop is the agency of thinking, resulting in the ability to ask the right questions, a result of deep systemic insight. He defined sySTEMic thinking as critical, logical and holistic thinking. The advice extends to young individuals entering the the labour market, highlighting the value of asking questions to gain insights and fill knowledge gaps.

Beyond traditional literacy and numeracy, Mr. van der Loo introduced a new ABC – the understanding of the impact of actions, behaviours, and choices on the human eco-system. Stressing the unity and interdependence between humanity and nature, he underlined the need to consider the consequences of our actions on the environment we depend on.

The discussion with the StartNet Europe network partners also touched on the implications of an emphasis on STEAM skills, acknowledging the value of diverse skills and the role of art, literature, communication and other disciplines in developing systemic thinking.

Watch a short clip or the entire speech here.