On June 20 at the National Library of Latvia, AmCham together with the U.S. Embassy in Riga hosted a discussion on how Latvia can improve its efforts to attract highly qualified students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
The event began with two presentations addressing the related issues of higher education, demography, and the availability of a qualified, well-educated workforce in Latvia. Afterwards, a distinguished panel, made up of the industry, academia un public sector representatives, explored potential strategies for producing more highly qualified graduates in STEM areas and examine the benefits and challenges of different strategies. Audience members had the opportunity to ask questions, which resulted in a lively conversation in which each panelist gave their own perspective on the matter.
To reach the goal of 3000 ICT graduates per year, panelists came to the conclusion that Latvia must make better use of its competitive infrastructure to attract international students and increase the rate of IT graduates, and to apply more practical, interdisciplinary approaches to learning to bridge the gap between education and application in the workforce. Panelists agreed that universities must work to increase human capital in IT by both bring in more students, and decrease the drop-out rate of those studying in STEM fields.
- Maksims Jegorovs, Accenture Latvia Lead;
- Daunis Auers, PhD, Chairman of the Board of CERTUS think tank; Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Latvia; President-elect of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies;
- Raimonds Aleksejenko, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics;
- Prof. Andris Ambainis, PhD, Dr.Sc.Comp., Professor in the Faculty of Computing at the University of Latvia;
- Prof. Tālis Juhna, Dr. sc. ing. Professor of Water Technology; Vice Rector for Research at the Riga Technical University;
- Renate Strazdina, Country Manager of Microsoft Latvia, who served as a moderator.
Some key conclusions from the discussion included:
- Making better of use of the already competitive IT infrastructure;
- Addressing the challenge of attracting and retaining human capital in STEM areas;
- Increasing ICT graduates from 600 to 3000 each year;
- Attracting more international students to Latvia and its universities;
- Decreasing drop-out rate of STEM students;
- Bridging the gap between education and application in workforce;
- Using more practical, interdisciplinary approaches in the study process;
- Promoting STEM in secondary schools;
- Promoting cooperation between universities in Latvia and abroad, and initiating joint programs.
Among AmCham's policy priorities this year, workforce quality and availability remains one of the key issues. Therefore, AmCham will continue to focus on that in the Labor Force Working Group, made up of member representatives. Interested members are invited to contact Liga Bertulsone, Executive Director at: firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in the mailing list and to receive updates on this important issue.