STEM – a wise career choice with many diverse branches

STEM – a wise career choice with many diverse branches

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

In challenging times and an era of expensive university education, a career that combines excitement, interest, challenge with better pay and long term career prospects has got to be a sound bet. Science and technology make a vital contribution to health and well-being and STEM underpins the performance of the science, health, IT sector and engineering industries. STEM is key because of expanding scientific frontiers, new product development and accelerating technological progress. STEM is key in computer systems design, scientific research and development, and high tech manufacturing.

Whether you are reading this career guide as someone in a STEM career already, considering a career change into STEM, a pupil at school, university graduate or as the parent or grandparent of a child approaching a decision point in their career, STEM is an area receiving a lot of attention from both business and government.

In the UK women are unrepresented in STEM jobs and there is a cultural bias towards the medical profession.

The annual ‘Big Bang’ event brings together pupils, parents, government and business – all around the area of STEM.

STEM Review - Under the government spotlight

The STEM review in 2007 by the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) the Department of Education (DE) created 20 recommendations affecting primary, post primary and tertiary education which fit into 4 areas:

1 - Business led promotion of STEM

2 - To alleviate the constraints that stop it

3 - Education flexibility

4 - Better government co-ordination of support

Experiencing a skills shortage, STEM is an area essential to economic growth. With the cost of living rising, it is important to choose the right course and get the right qualification.

What does STEM cover?

STEM is a wide area and includes; subjects allied to medicine, biological sciences, agricultural and related subjects, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, computer science, engineering and technology and architectural building and planning. Source = Joint Academic Coding System (JACS)

A wage premium is enjoyed by those STEM graduates working in Science and Financial occupations and further qualifications can help you achieve a premium salary. The shortage of STEM skills also makes it easier to work in America than in some other job areas, so that shortages can be combatted.

What STEM jobs are there?

STEM jobs include: computer support specialists, computer programmers, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, natural science managers, physicists, agricultural and food science technicians, software publishers, biochemists, chemists and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers.

In the US for example, 2.1 million new jobs in STEM are predicted between 2010 and 2020. Source = US bureau Labor Statistics.

What other jobs are related to STEM?

STEM related jobs include; auditors, financial consultants, underwriters, science administrators, policy advisors, science teachers, and business managers in healthcare and conservation.

STEM Skills

There is a significant shortfall of STEM skills compared with the demand.

STEM trained employees have useful transferable skills; written communication, numeracy, understanding risk and probability, adopting a logical and rigorous approach, analytical, problem solving ability. These skills are highly marketable into different careers as well as self employment.

Employment in the US in computer systems design/related services is increasing by + 47%, fuelled by demand for sophisticated computer networks and mobile technologies.

13 Tips for a successful career in STEM  

1- Ensure your Maths and science are up to scratch – get extra tutoring if necessary

2- Make sure you research courses before making a decision

3- Put the Big Bang Fair in your diary for this/next year

4- Check out the National STEM centre

5- Take a look at STEM Net

6- Investigate STEM Clubs

7- Speak to people who work in STEM jobs

8- Find out what courses and universities employers rate

9- Make sure that your non-technical skills crucial for employability are up to scratch

10- Get your hands on a copy of the Telegraph’s Career of the Future supplement and look at their jobs site

11- Check out any assumptions you have about what certain jobs and sectors are like – get your facts straight or you might miss out on great opportunities.

12- Keep an eye out for the latest news and check the Telegraph jobs in engineering listings as jobs are uploaded daily

13- If you are female and looking for career inspiration then do check out the new telegraph jobs women in space STEM resource which lists historic women to have gone to space on missions and modern women who work in the space industry at present

STEM as a career – getting it right

This career guide was written by Rachel Brushfield, Career, talent and learning & development strategist and coach of Energise – The Talent Liberation Company, who has over 25 years’ experience.

Research shows that STEM graduates are not always aware of all the career options available to them and that many students do not have well developed career plans, or know how to review the options down from a wide variety of choices.