The number of STEM jobs – science, technology, engineering and math – has exceeded the number of non-STEM jobs by three times since 2000.
And experts say there may not be enough graduates in these fields to fill the positions.
“Look around you how many times a day you touch a computer, a tablet, a phone … these industries are accelerating so much that these high school students will have jobs that don’t even exist yet,” said Kenneth Hecht, the leader of the National STEM Honor Society, a membership program that engages students from kindergarten through their careers in STEM Project-Based Learning (NSTEM).
STEM covers both high tech and long established professions. For example, STEM jobs in demand include those in cloud computing, IT, and other software developers who write code for computing. They also include the professions of actuaries, cartographers, critical care nurses and epidemiologists.
Jobs in the medical and healthcare fields have exploded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as populations age, but traditionally computer technology, or technology, has been the main specialty that international students pursue at the within STEM, according to a study by Institute of International Education.
Computer and information technology jobs are expected to increase by 11% from 2019 to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “much faster than the average for all professions”.
These occupations are expected to add approximately 531,200 new jobs to the US workforce by 2029. Jobs in cloud computing, big data and information security will be in high demand, according to BLS.
COVID plus and minus
Recent declines in enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed the pipeline between graduates and jobs as most international students weathered the pandemic in their home countries. But recent graduates who land STEM jobs show greater availability and higher wages.
“A STEM education and a STEM career can change the trajectory of a family and even others,” said Kenneth Hecht, head of the National STEM Honor Society which engages students from kindergarten to their careers in learning through STEM project (NSTEM).
Nidhi Thaker, a PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, is also optimistic about the promise of STEM opportunities.
“Apply and combine a biology education with a technology that can be useful to make a product, and by product, I mean, it could be a machine, it could be a drug, it could be anything else. , to help medicine itself and to help the field grow, ”is what biotechnology means for Thaker.
His experience working in the Boston area, one of America’s biotech hubs and close to several major American universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, has been largely positive.
“It’s not just work, work, work. They also incorporate, like team building exercises, outings and parties and things like that, ”Thaker noted. “It’s a very well-balanced cultural approach that they take, in terms of granting all the benefits. ”
Lack of human skills
One problem, however, is that many graduates master technical skills but lack human skills, said Sahil Jain, senior enterprise architect at Adobe.
“That means they’re good at coding. You can give them a condensed code, they’ll do it just fine. But they can’t talk to the top management of the client site.
Jain explains that both soft and technical skills are needed to be successful in emerging tech jobs, but students often excel in one or the other, but not both.
“That means they’re good at talking, but when it comes to the technical details the client calls their architects, ‘Oh, tell me how this will work? Can you also give me some architectural aspects? … This is where the big gap is, ”he explained.
Additionally, Jain said that the STEM job market is full of many evolving technologies.
“The sector is changing a lot. It’s not just cloud computing anymore. There are many, many areas of blockchain, ”a way of coding to improve information security.
“We have machine learning, we have [artificial intelligence] … ”said Jain, who recently enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Techology, a public university in Atlanta, to keep his skills up to date.
Fulfill the necessary roles
Even with initiatives to alert students to STEM opportunities, like NSTEM, there were around 2.4 million vacancies in STEM fields in 2018, according to a study by Impact sciences, a California initiative founded by teachers to engage young students in science.
“Being on the education side, these numbers are well published and well recognized around the world, and the question is and has been, ‘What are you doing about it? “, Hecht asked.
“If you look at the ethnic and gender differences it would be even worse,” which inspires one of NSTEM’s missions to help close the equity divisions in STEM, he added.
An April 2021 study by National Foundation for American Politics (NFAP) found that “Enrolling more international undergraduate students does not crowd out American students in the average American university and leads to an increase in the number of bachelor’s degrees in STEM majors awarded to American students ”.
“Each additional 10 bachelor’s degrees, in all majors, awarded to international students by a college or university leads to 15 additional bachelor’s degrees in STEM majors awarded to US students,” the study found. Data suggests that American students are more likely to specialize in STEM fields if they attend school with international students.
“In much of the United States, STEM graduates are scarce. Students who graduate with a STEM major typically earn more than other graduates, especially early in their careers, ”according to the NFAP study.
“The finding here that the presence of international students is actually increasing the number of American students graduating from a STEM major is another reason to encourage international students to come to the United States,” said Madeline Zavodny, author. of the study.
“America’s future competitiveness depends on attracting and retaining talented international students,” companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter say with other parties in group letter to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) in July 2020. ICE had announced that it would revoke international student visas during the COVID-19 pandemic if those students were not in person to study on campus.
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