Demographic change is a key issue for all economies. Above all securing the next generation of young professionals in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) plays a tremendously important role for industrialized nations, such as the Federal Republic of Germany and in particular the high-tech region of North Rhine-Westphalia. The German equivalent to STEM is MINT (Mathematics, Informatics, Natural Sciences and Technology).
In order to master the societal challenges ahead, such as climate change, or the topics of health and food security, resource efficiency and energy supply, competent experts are required. Against this backdrop, North Rhine-Westphalia launched an initiative in 2004 to inform young people about the excellent and exciting opportunities to be found in engineering and natural science professions and study programmes as well as to foster talent by means of various instruments: Zukunft durch Innovation.NRW, in short zdi – Shaping the future through innovation.
With over 4.500 partners from business, science, education, politics and social groups, zdi is today the largest initiative of its kind in Europe. There are meanwhile over 40 zdi Networks and about 70 zdi School Laboratories spread across the whole of North Rhine-Westphalia, plus countless other facilities involved in implementing zdi activities, such as research institutes and enterprises.
zdi is backed at regional level by three ministries (Science, Education, Economic Affairs), with the Ministry of Science holding overall responsibility. The zdi Central Office is a source of advice and assistance for the networks and school laboratories and coordinates the allocation of funding.
zdi’s portfolio targets primarily secondary school pupils, but a wide spectrum of different activities also takes place in nursery and primary schools. The initiative currently reaches about 300.000 young people each year.
In so doing, zdi also pursues the objective of fostering the talents of as many young people as possible and of making a contribution to educational equality.
Apart from the players in situ, many public bodies are also contributing to zdi’s success. For example, the NRW Regional Directorate of the Federal Employment Agency meanwhile implements a large part of its more extensive career guidance measures through zdi-BSO-MINT (the part of the zdi initiative devoted to education and career guidance in STEM disciplines). The initiative also benefits from European-level support: Funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF zdi) are helping to set up decentralized laboratories and expand the systematic acquisition of new business partners for the zdi Networks. In addition, NRW’s Ministry of Science grants funds for the establishment or significant expansion of new or existing zdi Networks.
We invite you to learn more about zdi. If you would like to receive more detailed information, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are available at any time to answer your questions.
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