German industry still lacks specialists in mathematics, informatics, the natural sciences and technology, according to a survey recently published by the country’s leading industrial organisations. It stressed that the shortage of graduates in these key fields had grown dramatically since the beginning of the year.The MINT Report, compiled by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, appears every six months. MINT stands for mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology. It is also the name of a campaign to boost development in these areas by the Federation of German Industry (BDI), the Federation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) and the Federation of German Employers’ Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries, who commissioned the survey.
Studying MINT subjects offers attractive career prospects. MINT graduates can reckon with good salaries and a successful integration in professional life. So the job market itself can hardly be the reason for present trends. According to Michael Hüther, director of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, the average MINT academic belongs to the upper-middle-class and enjoys excellent career prospects both in traditional MINT professions and in other occupational fields such as teaching, consulting and management.
Around 40% of CEOs of leading German companies listed on the stock exchange hold degrees in natural science, mathematics or engineering. “As far as Germany as a high-tech centre is concerned, the formula that management equals MINT applies increasingly,” Hüther said. However, the considerable demand for MINT graduates outside traditional MINT fields only adds to the shortage of staff in core MINT areas of employment.
Christine Anger, Oliver Koppel and Axel Plünnecke, who wrote the MINT Report, stressed that only every second MINT graduate is assigned to a true MINT profession (that is, as a mathematician, computer scientist or engineer) in the employment statistics.
Many MINT academics work in the teaching professions (in higher, vocational or secondary education), in economic fields relating to research activities (for example, cost control), as managing directors of firms operating in engineering fields or in areas relating to legal aspects, for example as patent examiners.
The survey’s authors caution that an already existing shortage that is set to worsen in the MINT areas could result in Germany failing to attain important goals in its innovation and research policy agenda.