With science, research, engineering and technology (STEM) jobs expected to grow twice as quickly as all others, there’ll be 142,000 new STEM jobs by 2023, according to a study by the Social Market Foundation and EDF.
But unless we can bust the myths and misconceptions driving young people away from STEM, there may not be enough skilled candidates to fill those roles. These are the five most common myths–and how to combat them.
1. You can only work in the STEM area you studied in
With the world of work changing faster than ever, it’s absolutely not true that you have to stick to the area of STEM you studied at university. New research by Reed reveals 96% of employers value mindset over skillset, and 98% would be confident about helping someone with the right mindset develop the right skillset for the job.
This is particularly true in STEM, where the core skills such as logical reasoning and problem-solving are consistent across all disciplines. Reassure students that their skills will equip them for a wide range of STEM careers.
2. You can’t get a STEM job without a PhD
STEM careers aren’t just for geniuses with PhDs. Make sure students know they can enter STEM through a variety of academic pathways, including apprenticeships as a:
- Laboratory Chemical Scientist
- Medical Laboratory Technician
- Aerospace Engineer
- Forensic Scientist
- Environmental Science Researcher
3. Girls aren’t interested in STEM careers
While women are massively underrepresented in STEM, this is rapidly changing as organisations like WISE campaign for better access and promotion of STEM to young girls. Careers advisors need to back these campaigns and make sure girls not only have access to STEM careers education, but also feel invited, included and welcome.
4. STEM jobs are all boring research and lab work
STEM offers an incredible variety of thrills and spills, as you’ll realise if you flip through the list of entry careers and apprenticeships in STEM with the Ministry of Defence. Careers advisers need to highlight the breadth of opportunities on offer and give students the chance to get inspired by taking part in employer-engagement activities.
5. Most STEM jobs will soon be automated
If the robots were really about to take our jobs, we wouldn’t be so worried about the skills shortage. While automation is redefining many careers, it’s also creating new areas of work, particularly in STEM, including:
- Computer Coders and Programmers
- Geotechnical Design Engineers
- Intelligence Consultants
- Robotics Engineers
- Data Scientists
The key is to encourage young people to stay positive, think creatively and explore the wealth of STEM opportunities on offer.