“STEM CAREERS AND SKILLS OF THE FUTURE” CHAT: CAREERS IN THE PETROCHEMICAL INDUSTRY

Jointly organised by STEM Alliance and Scientix, in collaboration with one of the STEM Alliance partners - the European Petrochemical Association, this chat was held on Tuesday, 4 September 2018, from 10:00 till 11:30 CET in English.

The chat addresed classes (pupils from secondary schools) that were led by one or more teachers and aimed at promoting awareness of all aspects of STEM careers.

During one and a half hour, classes had the opportunity to ask topic-related questions to the two experts:

SPEAKERS' BIOS

Ana Montenegro is a Spanish Chemical Engineer working in Repsol Chemical business leading all cross-cutting projects that ensure the innovation and continuous improvement. She has an experience of 20 years in chemistry having passed through different positions within Repsol: technical assistance and development of polyolefins manager, product manager in pipes, cables, Auto, Polypropylene, EVA and EBA, etc. In addition, she has been the president of the Spanish Committee of Plastics for Agriculture in Spain (CEPLA) and vice president of the international committee (CIPA). Currently, she is Chair of the Young EPCA Think Tank (YETT) as a professional committed to the evangelization of chemistry in society.

Ana Isabel Montenegro García
Repsol

 

Anne-Gret Iturriaga Abarzua works as Head of Communications for INEOS in Cologne. She previously worked as freelance journalist and author for Austrian and German media as well as PR in media agencies. She worked as PR Consultant in an agency in Vienna for clients like PlasticsEurope, ECVM and API. She was Manager for Communications for EVC (now INOVYN) before arriving to INEOS in Cologne. She won several awards like International Corporate Media Award of Excellence, 2013 or IPRA Golden World Awards, 2017 and 2018. She lives in Germany with her husband and two kids.

Anne-Gret Iturriaga Abarzua,
INEOS

 

CHAT RECORDING

The purpose of this chat was to offer secondary school pupils a better understanding of careers in the STEM field with the chemical and petrochemical industry. Specifically, this chat provides an insight into a chemistry career. Two speakers from company members of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) presented their experience related to this career path and talked about the opportunity existing in their sector.

Classes discussed with professionals from companies their daily job, the study and career path that brought them to their job. Facilitators from the STEM Alliance coordinating team moderated and supported both schools and company representatives to have a meaningful discussion. The chat was a great opportunity for teachers to make their lessons interactive and interesting.

Teacher are welcome to base a classroom activity on the chat material. Along with watching the recording, it is recommended that teachers introduce pupils to the topic of discussion using brief information below and familiarise them with the profiles of the speakers.

A Career in the petrochemical industry: What's in it for the future generation?

Despite offering tremendous employment opportunities, the chemical industry has reported in recent years an increased difficulty in attracting and retaining talent. A career in the petrochemical industry is a demanding one, which ideally requires a combination of hard skills in specialized STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) fields, and soft skills, such as communication skills and the ability to work across various sectors. So, while STEM professionals are in very high demand for the Petrochemistry industry – required by almost every company in almost any industry – there is a skills gap which results in very limited supply.

"Technological unemployment" is a feature which has reportedly had a crippling effect on the chemical industry, and which the younger generation is in a prime position to address. While technology has played a significant role in the chemical industry in recent years, the human factor in adopting and implementing this new technology has often been overlooked.

Companies need the next generation's top talent to select the most effective technology and to execute effectively: "Technology is more an enabler of change, rather than the driving force for change. We need talent to use the technology to instigate the change in chemical industry."

A further problem that has become apparent in the chemical industry is the lack of gender diversity. Women now represent the majority of university graduates in developed economies and control 80% or more of all consumer-purchasing decisions. They are a critical, valuable part of the global talent pool, and companies are increasingly recognizing that it is not just gender diversity that is important, but diversity of thought in the workplace that must be encouraged.

Conclusion

A focal point for this chat was the current disparity between demand and supply of talent in chemical industry. Above are some of the key challenges facing the industry which can help pupils better understand why now, more than ever, the chemical industry needs young, flexible and innovative people. Pupils are encouraged to have a look at issues, such as lack of education in the STEM fields (resulting in low applicant pools), the existence of technological unemployment, and the lack of gender diversity in the chemical industry in advance of the chat to form relevant questions when chatting with the experts.

Relevant Links:

 

STEM Alliance http://www.stemalliance.eu

Scientix http://www.scientix.eu/

About European Schoolnet

European Schoolnet is a network of 34 Ministries of Education from across the European member states, leading educational innovation at European level. As a major international think tank, European Schoolnet operates key European services in education on behalf of the European Commission, member Ministries of Education and industry partners. European Schoolnet's activities are divided among three areas of work:

  • Policy, research and innovation: information sharing and evidence building.
  • Schools services: enhancing cooperation between schools across Europe.
  • Advocacy: how ICT and digital media contribute to transforming teaching and learning processes.

About EPCA

Based in Brussels, European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) is the primary European Business Network for the global petrochemical business community consisting of chemical producers, their suppliers, customers and service providers. It operates for and through more than 700-member companies from 54 different countries. EPCA organises conferences and events in Europe offering members all over the world the opportunity to meet industry leaders and selected external stakeholders and stay abreast of international market developments as well as technological and societal trends. EPCA also supports members on specific topics that underpin the sustainable development of the global petrochemical industry. EPCA promotes STEM education, with a clear focus on gender and diversity inclusion. EPCA also highlight the multidisciplinary approach and the variety of challenging career paths that the petrochemical industry offers.