Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are collectively the backbone of a nation’s economy and innovation, giving it a competitive edge. Alluvion has taken special interest in supporting STEM initiatives because we recognize the current and future need for skilled workers in these careers.

More than nine million STEM jobs were available in 2015 with computer applications comprising 45 percent and engineering making up 19 percent of these jobs. Many other STEM jobs are related to life sciences, architecture, mathematical sciences, cartography and STEM-related management.

The growing importance of STEM

Even as science and technology continue to make rapid advancements, the need for specialized skills to fill emerging positions will be acute. Artificial intelligence, information technology, robotics, virtual reality, data analysis and life sciences research are some areas that require specialized skills related to innovation, technological expertise, R&D and much more.

There was also a significant growth of 10.5 percent in STEM occupations with more than eight million jobs becoming available between 2015 and 2016.  Some of the highest gains in professions were made in computer-related occupations and engineering.

STEM workers earn much better than non-STEM graduates. On an average STEM occupation, related salary is $87,570, which is almost twice as much as that earned in non-STEM jobs. In 93 of 100 STEM jobs, the average salary was considerably above that of the national wage average.

Challenges of filling STEM positions

As per a recent analysis, one-third of STEM workers do not have a higher education degree, and at least 35 percent of the workers in STEM occupations have not completed a bachelor’s degree. An equal number has not completed a graduate degree in STEM. This is seen most in areas of computer workers, technicians, health care practitioners and engineers. At least half of the STEM students who completed relevant college training are employed in non-STEM jobs such as finance, management, and sales.

Currently, our nation’s universities produce only 29 percent of STEM graduates. That is not enough to fill the staggering 1.4 million information technology job positions. According to recent data, millions of jobs related to STEM could go unfilled in 2018. Staffing & industry trends show 60 percent of employers in the U.S. face challenges in finding the right talent to fill STEM job positions.

The way forward

Recognizing the huge opportunities in STEM occupations, the state and federal government has granted funds to promote training specific to professions and trades. In April, Florida State Senator Aaron Bean presented a $975,000 check to benefit the STEM2 Hub’s Northeast Florida 21st Century Workforce Development project, which will increase the availability of STEM-related education programs in Northeast Florida schools.

On-the-job training and apprenticeships are the ideal way to up-skill workers across all levels in key industries so that the STEM talent gap is eliminated. For employers seeking STEM candidates, partnering with industry training organizations and professional staffing companies like Alluvion are other ways to bridge the STEM gap.