Jobs in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) have formed the topic of much discussion in recent years, with the amount of vacancies for STEM roles outnumbering the number of skilled applicants.
In 2014 it was estimated that there were twice as many STEM vacancies as there were applicants, resulting in a growing call for better education in the subjects all the way from secondary school up to university and the workplace. A study undertaken by job board ‘indeed’ painted a more positive picture this year, showing that the number of people looking for STEM jobs had reached 90% of the advertised vacancies.
In a world where economic growth is driven by technology and innovation, the power to come up with solutions using technology has become increasingly important. Professionals in STEM fields tick this box and are therefore in high demand by employers. In fact, the need for workers in this field is only expected to grow, so what's holding people back from choosing this path?
While a gap in education provides the most obvious answer, another often cited reason is that people might be dissuaded from pursuing an education in a STEM subject because they see it as a very narrow field for geeky, unimaginative men, with only a select few careers to choose from or perhaps holding no real-life application at all.
In reality, STEM encompasses a diverse range of occupations, with roles like web developer, industrial engineer, astronomer, microbiologist and sales engineer to name a few. It's also less about exploring static concepts than about using them to develop new technologies and come up with innovative solutions. This involves practising key skills like problem-solving and critical thinking that are useful in most professions.
Lately, the conversation has slightly shifted from STEM to STEAM, with the newly added 'A' representing the arts. STEAM advocates have emphasised art's power of creative thinking as a vital ingredient for the innovation at the root of STEM subjects, and believe its inclusion will make the technology sector more attractive to those who would usually not consider working in it.
As the discourse surrounding STE(A)M widens, the UK is tackling its skills gap through apprenticeships, free digital skills training and even after-school coding clubs for children.
Meanwhile, organisations like the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) are targeting women specifically to tackle the significant gender gap within the industry. This means overhauling the sector's image as male-dominated by waking women up to the potential of STE(A)M jobs and giving them the confidence to pursue them.
STE(A)M jobs can be said to be the jobs of the future and with technical skills training becoming more readily available, it's never too late to get involved. First and foremost, it's time to start regarding STE(A)M as much more than that boring maths class during secondary school and as a multi-faceted and exciting industry.
Sources: Abintegro,: Telegraph; stemtosteam.org; Bureau of Labor Statistics
Image source: Abintegro