‘The number of boys with a screwdriver in their back pocket keeps decreasing’
Interview with Petra Lambert, regional coordinator at Jetnet & Technet
It is important to get young people interested in a technology-related job because technology can offer solutions for the big social problems we are facing, such as climate change, liveable cities and healthcare. To have sufficient employees in the future, our high-tech companies participate in Techniek Tastbaar. This is a program to promote technology among young people in Assen, Drachten, Sneek, Gorredijk, Burgum, Leeuwarden, Heerenveen, Steenwijk and Meppel.
Enthusiasm for the program is growing among companies. Instead of holding endless meetings on how to interest young people in technology, Jet-Net & Technet offer a practical and effective program called Techniek Tastbaar. “Students bring their parents along to the companies and experience something quite different than at school,” says Petra Lambert, regional coordinator at Jetnet & Technet. She organizes Techniek Tastbaar together with project leader John van Mierlo. The success of the program has made ICD companies enthusiastic. “We organize a practical day together with primary school and secondary school teachers and companies in the region. Students get the opportunity to play with technological gadgets and can learn more about welding, turning and milling. Companies show what they do and this makes students enthusiastic about technology.”
Most schools can do with some help to make students enthusiastic about technology. The practical day is not an isolated event. It is part of the curriculum and includes both classroom preparation and follow-up. “Some schools turn the practical day into a special assignment in their career orientation program. This helps students focus even better on their school and career choice. For example, some schools have students interview three companies and make a video of these interviews. This will be even more effective if the mentor organizes a classroom session to view and discuss the videos. This will increase interest in technology and promote discussion about the opportunities technology offers.” Unfortunately, Petra Lambert has no control over the content of these sessions. “We organize the whole process up to and including the event. After the practical day, it is up to the schools to arrange the follow-up. We urge participating schools to prepare the practical day in class to ensure sufficient students participate and to enable discussions about the event in class afterwards. This gives a complete picture and has the biggest effect.”
Although this method sounds fragile, it is effective. “We train schools how they can look with students at their motivation and passion and how to link these to technology. This gives teachers more insight and equips them better for discussions about career options with their students. In the past, teachers would discuss a future in technology only with the boys who always walked about with a screwdriver in their back pocket. These boys are less common in today’s student population and do not need any stimulation to choose a career in technology. What you want is to ensure that the other students also become acquainted with technology from an early age, for instance by presenting them with technology assignments that combine language and arithmetic into attractive, context-rich education. This is a process that has to grow and will slowly but surely become part of the curriculum.’’
21 thousand visitors
The first Techniek Tastbaar was held in Meppel in 2015. In the meantime, companies and schools in 16 cities in the Northern Netherlands are familiar with the event and there have been over 21,000 visitors. This number is growing thanks to the enthusiasm of schools and companies. ,,We organize most events in Friesland and this year also in Drenthe. The next event will be on March 13 in Sneek, including the companies of Innovation Cluster Drachten. The province of Groningen is the next area we want to conquer."
It would be great if not only students and their parents, but also mentors come to the event. “We organize our Techniek Tastbaar events usually on Fridays between 14:00 hours and 21:00 hours. It would be great if more teachers came to the event and learned more about the companies in the region. A visit to the event also widens their knowledge of technology, so that they are better able to talk to their students and give good advice regarding further education. Because I think it is so important, I call on teachers to make an agreement in their team meeting on who will go to the Techniek Tastbaar event.’’
The first Techniek Tastbaar event was held in Meppel in 2015. Today, the event takes place at 16 locations in the Northern Netherlands. Over the years, it drew over 21,000 visitors. The number of visitors is growing thanks to the enthusiasm among companies and schools. “We still organize most of these events in Friesland and a few in Drenthe. Groningen is the next area where we want to hold these events.” The positive reactions from companies show that they are eager to take part. “Every participating company receives a cake as a thank-you for participating in the event. This often results in wonderful responses. We see how participating companies develop in their presentation techniques. When they take part for the first time, they often do not know what to show. Stickers, key fobs and company posters are not enough. Students find this boring. They want action! Companies recognize this and come with a different approach at the next event. When students are enthusiastic, companies know they have made the right choices!”
Jet-Net & TechNet offer primary schools practical support in introducing and integrating science and technology in their curriculum. We know from research that children aged 9 to 14 already form an image of professions and exclude professions from their career choices. Technology also makes an important contribution to children’s talent development. This makes it so important to acquaint children with science and technology at an early age. Jet-Net & TechNet support primary schools with free workshops and advice on setting up science and technology lessons and on smart ways to collaborate with companies.
Visit Techniek Tastbaar
For an impression of the event, watch videos from recent years or visit the events with our companies on March 13 in Sneek and April 17 in Assen.