The Great STEM Shortage (and why it's good news for you!)

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths

You may or may not have heard that we have a STEM problem. This isn’t about gardening: it’s about a lack of young people studying STEM subjects – like maths, physics, IT, engineering – and going into STEM professions.

Why does that matter? Because we kind of need people who are good with coding, computers, digital magic and engineering. That’s the way the world works now: the UK has one of the largest digital economies in the world, contributing £100billion to the country every year, for example. So we need new blood with new ideas to keep things fresh and moving forwards.

We also need engineers, mathematicians, technicians and more to meet the challenges facing not just the UK, but the wider world: things like climate change, alternative fuels and cyber security to name just a few.

Plus, there’s space exploration to carry on, new cars to develop, railways and roads to maintain and even faster broadband to sort out for when we absolutely must watch all of The Walking Dead in one terrified, shaking rush. (Could happen.)

What can you do about it?

The world wants STEM experts, and it wants them yesterday. Which is where you come in, as there are growing numbers of opportunities for great careers to those who pursue STEM subjects and training.

That could be in the form of an Apprenticeship or Degree Apprenticeship, depending on what stage you’re at, for example.

Level 2-4 Apprenticeships are available to school-leavers in areas like network engineering, software development and cyber security. You’ll learn on the job, get top STEM skills and embark on a career that could well shape the future.
Degree Apprenticeships have been developed with STEM employers and higher education institutions. Again, you’ll train on the job but also gain an honours degree in subjects like Digital & Technology Solutions, IT Management for Business or Software Development, all of which could set you up for jobs in cyber security, data analysis, international business or perhaps your own tech start up.
Alternatively, you could pursue STEM subjects at A Level and go on to a degree programme that way. However you get there, though, it’s the end goal that matters: getting the future-ready skills that will help you in your career, and will help the rest of us in our daily lives thanks to your innovations. We want those jetpacks soon, please. We were promised jetpacks. Or at least hover boards.

What next?

If you want to investigate the opportunities STEM offers, your school or college will be able to advise you on STEM subjects. There are lots of useful places to go for more info too, including:

  1. STEM Website (general STEM stuff)
  2. The Tech Partnership (lots of info on digital careers)
  3. The Institute of Engineering and Technology
  4. UCAS (for more on Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships)
  5. CareerMap (to search for STEM vacancies)

The STEM Shortage in Numbers

  • 138,000 new entrants are needed to fill digital roles every year
  • 43% of STEM vacancies are hard to fill, thanks to a shortage of skilled applicants
  • 21% – increase in the number of digital Apprentices in 2015-16
  • 39% of businesses struggle to fill digital specialist vacancies
  • Only 7% of digital specialists are under 24
  • Just 16% of digital specialists are women, so ladies: STEM needs you

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