The EU is committed to creating 10,000 new jobs in the European raw materials sector in the short term. JA Europe and EIT RawMaterials’ partnership blends entrepreneurship and STEM education to bring innovation focusing on raw materials into the classroom in Bulgaria and Romania.

Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the raw materials sector

A new innovative partnership between JA Europe and EIT RawMaterials seeks to equip 1200 young people aged 15-18 from Bulgaria and Romania with entrepreneurship and STEM skills, and spark their interest in the raw materials sector. The initiative combines STEM and entrepreneurship education through a blend of activities involving professional business volunteers as mentors motivating students to try new things and help them turn innovative ideas into real opportunities in this sector. Four national Innovation camps took place across the two countries in spring 2018, where students had to come up with solutions to challenges related to recycling natural resources and the raw materials circular economy. In the academic year 2018-2019, students will participate in a one-year entrepreneurship education programme, the JA Company Programme, and certify this entrepreneurial experience with the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass, an international qualification.

EIT RawMaterials is very pleased to partner with Junior Achievement in order to build on our existing, successful schools work in raw materials awareness and enhance it with innovative entrepreneurial education.

Dr Rima Dapous, Director of Education at EIT RawMaterials

Industry is a high political priority of the current European Commission. As part of this plan, the Skills Agenda has been extended to new key industry sectors, such as construction, steel, paper, green technologies and renewable energies, manufacturing and maritime shipping. This initiative is part of the EU’s broader agenda to boost competitiveness and innovation capacity alongside economic growth and job creation. JA Europe shares the mission and vision of EIT RawMaterials to develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe by enabling sustainable competitiveness of the European minerals, metals and materials sector along the value chain by driving innovation, education and entrepreneurship.

Experts indicate that almost all of the thirty fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some background in STEM [1], therefore, this collaboration intends to raise awareness about the importance of entrepreneurship and STEM education among local and European policymakers throughout the Bulgarian Presidency in 2018 and Romanian Presidency in 2019.

Tremendous opportunities lie in the space between STEM and entrepreneurship. JA Europe programmes are recognized as a European good practice to support young people with ideas and to create jobs. By fostering innovation in education and guiding thousands of students towards raw materials careers, JA Europe and EIT RawMaterials will contribute to create more jobs and spur innovation in the sector.

Caroline Jenner, CEO at JA Europe

[1] Harmon, H., & Wilborn, S. (2016). The Math Learning Gap: Preparing STEM Technicians for the New Rural Economy. The Rural Educator, 37(3).

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