STEM careers are growing. They are more lucrative and offer more possibilities for exploration and opportunities to advance through the field. Unfortunately, while computer fields are projected to grow three times faster than other career options through 2029, interest in entering these positions has not exploded at the same rate.
A recent Student Ability report conducted by YouScience indicates that skill sets for these positions aren’t lacking. In fact, schools have been implementing more tech and computer classes throughout the years to the point that screen addiction and inactivity is a serious concern for parents of students. While many teachers and families have worked to provide a healthy learning environment for children, kids are not as interested in STEM careers as are needed for future endeavors. They host many tech abilities and are well versed in STEM subjects, but lack the desire to pursue these vast fields on a professional level.
This has been examined primarily in secondary schools. Deemed the “skills gap,” YouScience has found that students have twice the computer skills than an interest in working with them, twice the science skills than an interest in seeking jobs in scientific settings, and three times the manufacturing skills than the drive to pursue them. This information presents a clear picture of how students’ will to enter a field can impact the future of STEM careers.
The skills gap is being experienced at an alarming level considering the teaching profession. For years now interest in earning a teaching degree has dwindled, and with it, more vacant teaching positions have remained unfilled. If students’ disinterest in STEM careers is at all comparable to the teaching profession, the future of these high-paying futuristic careers will be grim.
In addition, a focus on increasing female interest in STEM careers has been a challenge. The male-to-female ratio in these fields is still highly unbalanced. While many analysts will look at the data and claim sexism or gender bias, the fact of the matter is that most women do not actively seek out STEM careers. Personal preference makes the selection process more complex than just data sheets. At the same time, employers who actively rally to hire women often do so with such activism that they isolate their male employees. This leads to lower industry satisfaction for everyone involved and contributes to less dedicated workers.
Without dedicated workers, the necessary tasks cannot properly be fulfilled. Those individuals who are interested in STEM careers are more likely to experience the kind of stress and burnout that teachers are currently suffering from, in addition to internal struggles inflicted by political attacks waged based on identity. All of this spells trouble for a growing field that is already in need of more workers.
While there is plenty of time to remedy the situation, student interest in STEM careers does not match the growing need. Tech employers looking toward long-term goals must consider the importance of hands-on learning to peak interest and promote teaching methods that make learning more fulfilling rather than mandatory. This may combat the skills gap and bring new students into the field.