Due to the technological advancements we’ve seen over the decades, there recently have been more push from most countries to bring to light the advantages that STEM education leads to in terms of professional pathways. It is important to note that the benefits reaped with STEM careers are not only isolated to the individuals who practice them, but also ripple out to the greater community by assisting in bettering the economy.
In most instances, STEM-related jobs are responsible for more than 50% of the economic sustainability expansion (U.S. Science and Engineering 2012). However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are only about 5% of U.S. workers that are employed in the fields relating to science and engineering (Idugboe, 2016). This can be attributed to the increasing disparity called as the job skills gap (Oberoi, 2016) which results to employers not being able to find sufficient amount of skilled workers to fill in the jobs. Unsurprisingly, this problem is not present only in the U.S. workforce system, but experienced in various countries as well.
There are countless benefits when a STEM-based career is chosen. Firstly, STEM-based careers in terms of employment demand have been projected to continuously increase from 6% to 36% by 2026 (Snider & Koenig, 2019). While this may vary for different industries, a significant growth can still be expected.
Secondly, not only are STEM-related jobs plentiful they also get compensated very well. An extract of the U.S. News & World Report is reproduced at the end of the article to provide examples of the remuneration a number of STEM professionals receive (Snider & Koenig, 2019). According to the report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce, approximately 65% of students with undergraduate degrees in STEM fields earn more than students with Master’s degree in non-STEM occupations. In addition, 47% of undergraduate-degree holders in STEM occupations earn more than PhD holders in non-STEM fields (STEM Executive Summary, 2014 and Idugboe, 2016).
Lastly, STEM-based careers will be the driving force behind the development and stabilization of countries’ economies. Over the years, society has become very reliant on the technologies available and has invariably also evolved as a function of the dynamic changes these technologies introduce. This can be attributed to innovation which has also been found to have a direct correlation with economy. Studies conducted by Atkinson and Mayo back in 2010 estimated that 90% of per capita income growth was driven up by innovation. This occurred during the period when touchscreen MP3s, mobile phones, high-tech gaming consoles, etc. were released. Business-wise, customers are highly receptive to new and innovative products and services. Because it is unlikely for society’s appetite for new technologies to wane, there is therefore more pressure for society to produce more innovators who normally end up becoming STEM-based skilled workers and professionals.
Based on the points stated above, it would be fair to say that STEM-related careers will serve as the backbone for the 21st century’s economic development. While this pathway may not be for everyone, there is compelling evidence that for those who choose to pursue a career in STEM, there is a very rewarding career ahead of them.