European students get advice on chemistry careers via online chat

“What career opportunities are there in the chemical industry?” asked students from 11 schools around Europe on the fourth Xperimania online chat on 14 March. Fabian Scuvie from essenscia, the Belgian chemistry association, gave students practical and helpful advice in planning their professional life.

Students from Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Spain, France, Finland, Germany and Portugal participated actively in the chat. Most of the questions were posed on the future prospects of chemistry, and the skills and education needed to work in the chemical industry.

Fabian Scuvie explained that the skills needed to work in the chemical industry include computer literacy, team spirit, attention to detail, flexibility, curiosity and good communication skills.  In some cases one should also be open to travel.  Within their curricula, students should concentrate especially on organic chemistry, which is the base of all chemistry.

“Most of the market in the chemical industry is related to organic chemistry”, the expert pointed out.

Scuvie affirmed that the chemical industry as a whole has very good future prospects. Especially pharmaceutical chemistry, biotechnology, chemistry developing new materials, energy-saving technologies and environmental technologies are the sectors developing most in the coming years. Also nanotechnology, chemistry at the micro scale, is going to be one of the future’s chemistry branches.

During the chat participants learned that in Europe the chemical industry is most developed in Germany, England, Belgium, Ireland, France and the Netherlands. Scuvie also explained that students who haven’t performed that well in school chemistry, still have a chance:

“Of the total workforce in the chemical industry only 15 % have a diploma directly related to chemistry. The industry hires also accountants, lorry drivers, lawyers, secretaries, sales people… There are plenty of different jobs available!”

As a conclusion Fabian Scuvie brought up the fact, that there aren’t enough students willing to work in the chemistry sector, especially in the petrochemical industry. According to the estimations of the European Union 500,000 additional researchers or 1.2 million research-related personnel will be needed by 2010. Also women are needed.

“In Belgium, we have only one female out of eight males in science education”, calculated Scuvie.

“Moreover, many scientists will retire in the next 10 years. So, we are waiting for you!”

To register for the next chat, please contact xperimania@eun.org

Download the chat transcript here (pdf).

Background article

Gimnazija Poljane, Slovenia.
Teacher coordinator: Breda Policar
Gimnazija Poljane, Slovenia.
Teacher coordinator: Breda Policar
SEK Budapest International School, Hungary. Teacher coordinator:
Dr. Beata Jarosievitz
Chat moderators and experts. From left:  Ann Whent, Cefic/Appe, Dominique, Cefic/Appe, Pierre de Kettenis, Cefic/Appe, and Fabian Scuvie, essenscia.