As a research and development company, we are aware of the challenges of innovation. Wanting to develop the technologies of the future, it is a priority to continuously educate young people in STEM, as well as to continuously improve the skills of the employees.

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At the same time, openness to knowledge and readiness for change are becoming key qualities today. We are also increasingly recognising the importance of science. According to the 3M State of Science Index (SOSI) survey, 89% of Poles believe we need more professionals and skilled technical staff in the country. At the same time, a similar group of respondents (83%) would not choose such a career path, although we highly value those who do specialised work.

Furthermore, according to the SOSI survey, as many as 43% of Poles do not see digital skills as a career opportunity, especially since school curricula hardly prepare them for the digital age.

Meanwhile, Industry 4.0 offers new opportunities for growth. While robots are already replacing humans in repetitive tasks, there is a constant need for 4.0 employees with digital competencies to control them and teach them how to operate processes, using artificial intelligence algorithms.

At 3M, we are taking steps to develop vocational training for young people planning to enter the labour market. In 2021, together with Wrocław City Hall and ARAW, we established a strategic cooperation, “Partnership for the Development of the Future,” in promoting and supporting the development of technical and vocational education in Lower Silesia.

As part of this cooperation, and thanks to the global 3M Manufacturing and Academic Partnership (MAP) initiative, we have allocated a grant worth PLN 0.5 million for the purchase of modern teaching equipment for the Vocational Training Centre in Wrocław, enabling the training of potential workers for the factories of the future. In addition, in our SuperHub, students can put the technical knowledge they have acquired into practice.

Scientific and technological advances and breakthroughs need thinkers from diverse backgrounds to bring us closer to an increasingly innovative future. Taking a broad view from different perspectives strengthens the potential of scientific thought, increases the number of innovative ideas, and gives improved research techniques. Unfortunately, the sciences in STEM still show untapped potential for women. Almost three-quarters of Poles believe so (SOSI). And while we agree that we should be doing more to promote diversity in the field, women are opting out of STEM professions, pointing out the lack of sufficient support.

Being aware of these challenges, we have undertaken a number of actions to support women in science. Thanks to our partnership with the Perspektywy Foundation, we regularly participate in the Women in Tech Summit, and organise Technology Evenings, where we talk to young women about the opportunities and the role of science in their lives, the challenges facing female scientists, and the first steps on the career path in STEM.

Through a mentoring programme, together with the Inspiring Girls Foundation, we support girls in elementary school, inspiring them to broaden their horizons in various development and educational paths. In turn, at 3M, through the activities of the Women Leadership Forum, we strengthen the role of women, promoting their development at all levels of the organisation.

Radosław Kaskiewicz, Managing Director, 3M East Europe Region