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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: FP7 » Lack of interest in science by young scholars

version: 4 / updated: 2011-02-04
id: #1613 / version id: #1046
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Anthony Walker
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Last changed by: Anthony Walker
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

CAPACITIES: Science and society

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Science and society communicate

Optional reference/s to FP7 project/s

Use the following format: Project Acronym (Project Reference No.). Use commas if more than one project is associated to this Wild Card, for example: ALFA-BIRD (213266), SAFAR (213374), LAPCAT-II (211485)

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Lack of interest in science by young scholars

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
The relatively small number of scholars taking careers in science could lead to a shortage of researchers and severe knowledge gaps in the future that would take years to recover from as a whole generation has limited knowledge of science. This could clearly lead to a 'Brain Drain', with a shortage of scientific skills and expertise In Europe, and competitiveness with US and Far East cannot be maintained as key investments are moved to US and Far East.


Science career, shortage of researchers, limited future knowledge, society, community, research


(max. 250 characters)
The relatively small number of scholars taking careers in science could lead to a shortage of researchers and severe knowledge gaps in the future that would take years to recover from as a whole generation has limited knowledge of science.

Signal's first apperance

before 2000

Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Brain Drain - Shortage of scientific skills and expertise. No longer maintain competitiveness with US and Far East. Relocation of key investments to US and Far East. continuation
very harmful
#2 Localised reversion of knowledge economy. discontinuation
very harmful
#3 Inability to solve emerging problems such as global warming, new diseases discontinuation
very harmful
#4 Mass unemployment due to imbalance of skills and requirements of new graduates (too many trained in media studies and not science). re-emerging
mainly harmful
#5 Economic impact of importing the required skills and knowledge new/emerging

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

Nothing done to address it esp. with reduction in public funding for promtoion and education, shortage of science teachers etc


please specify
please select
Level 1: important for a particular country May be localised
Level 2: important for a particular world region May be localised
Level 3: important for the European Union Of particular relevance given Lisong Agenda reliance on knowledge economy to compete on world level
Level 4: important for the whole world Could be

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
cultural/religious filters (values, traditions, faith, spiritual beliefs)
political filters (party or ideological interests)

Comments on selection:

Media influence children's choice. Cultural effects also affect choice and religous effect such as creationism are detrimental to free choice. Will require positive policy decisions to address eg current STEM programme is government funded.

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Social Influence of peer pressure
Values/Ethical/Cultural What people see is of value and also affected by cultural pressures.

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
before 2015 Current reduction in public funding affects education and promotion of science Money into STEM projects

Potential stakeholders' actions

short-term actions
(after 2015)
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Fund STEM activity and education
Business actors (incl. SMEs) Allow staff Lifelong Learning opportunities
Academic/Research sector Engagement of youngster - outreach activities and popularisation
Media Popularisation of science - children's programmes
General public Parents' responsibility to educate children

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Ageing and other demographic tensions Lack of education in logical thinking
Social exclusion & poverty Greater difference in access to opportunity
Economic prosperity/dynamics Adverse effect on knowledge economy

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Social Sciences and Humanities People effect...subsequently on all other areas
Science in society This could address problem

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Improving researchers mobility and career development by, for example, realising a single labour market for researchers. Could help redress national or localised imbalances

Research-friendly strategies potentially improving understanding of the signal

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here
please justify:
particularly relevant
Overcoming sub-criticality and systemic failures
To be subcritical means that the effort in a particular field or subfield lacks resources, equipment or a sufficient number of researchers to achieve a desired goal
People skills shortfall
Creating a closer link between researchers & policy-makers
(e.g. supporting both thematic and cross-cutting policies, highlighting the strategic purpose of the European Research Area, etc.
policy makers could help address problem

Signal's relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
People skills shortfall. Policy makers could help address the problem. Promotion of ‘exciting’ careers in Science.