In order to gather information on student career choices, especially those related with STEM studies, the Baltic hub has carried out consultations with 30 schools representative of three Baltic countries – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The schools were presented by career counsellors of the schools or the employees who organize the career counselling in the schools. The emphasis was put on the process of how the pupils are influenced by the various aspects on their career preferences and what is the perception of the students on the STEM and transport study fields.
During the consultations, most of the respondents mentioned that the career counselling is usually being periodically performed for the most senior students. However, all three countries have split on the question concerning when students usually start looking for career consultations. In Estonia, the majority of the interlocuters (55%) said that career counselling is needed at 15 years old. Whereas Latvian responses mostly underline the 15-16 year old group, Lithuanian responses were totally divided into multiple categories, with the dominant responses reflecting the need to counsel the 16-17 year old category. Most of the respondents of Baltic schools agreed that during the consultations students mostly are interested in choosing what to study in a broad sense, and not where to study. That means the students are fluctuating among many career options and the career consultations are necessary to help them orient themselves. The main 3 factors determining whether students choose the STEM and transport field include: students’ propensity to exact sciences, example of the family and the prestige of the field. Interestingly, in Lithuania, respondents underlied the importance of the prospects of quick and easy entering into employment market after studies. As the main drawbacks of the STEM study field which repels the students from choosing this field are name as these: this study field is too difficult to learn, the lack of prestige of the field, and the stereotypical public opinion on STEM studies as being male oriented.
When talking about the gender aspect in the STEM and transport field, some respondents also had few insights on the lack of females choosing STEM studies. As the times are changing and the stereotypes are vanishing, and as girls choose their career without caring too much about public opinion, this field should be more gender-balanced in the future. The respondents mentioned the importance of the examples of good practices for the students as they not only present the field to the new generation but can raise the interest for both male and female students to link their future career with the STEM and transport field. The constant interaction of the STEM and transport companies or institutions and education institutions is seen as one of the best practices to spread knowledge about the field.