The unemployment rate in the US is a bit of a contradiction. With the employment rate resting at around 4.7%, we would assume that there is a lack of jobs in the market but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Bloomberg reported a skills crisis of 3 million unfilled jobs (2012) in STEM which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. If we took that number, that works out to 13 million unemployed Americans or 3.6 unemployed workers per job available (Engler, J. 2012). But even with all of those people unemployed in the US, they still can’t find STEM skilled workers, to fill these jobs, and the numbers are increasing.
As our society moves more digital, with robots and AI replacing tasks once done by humans, workers are having to develop skills in STEM, if they want to have job security. Even healthcare is going to the robots. With surgeries now being done by precision robots, robots are now earning more money in hospitals than the surgeons they’ve replaced (surgery bots cost roughly $2 million USD). So if these bots are more expensive than doctors, why would hospitals use them? Well, the precision of the minimally invasive methods used by the robot, cuts hospital stays in half and lowers the risk of postoperative complications. At the end of the day, the speed and precision saves money for the hospital in an ROI aspect, leaving even traditional surgeons, in the dust. This doesn’t mean that doctors will be done away with and replaced by a hospital of robots but what it does mean is that the surgeon will have to become more technology savvy to learn how to work with the robot. As the saying goes “if you can’t beat em, join em” and that’s truly what is happening in the age of technology, you have to adapt, to stay ahead.
Aside from robots, STEM fields have seen a 28% growth since 2000 compared to other industries which were only 6% and researchers say that there will be dozens more careers added into STEM over the next 20 years, that we’ve never heard of today. But to meet this future demand, students need to engage in STEM early, to stay ahead of the curve. According to Engineering.com, there aren’t enough students graduating in STEM in the United States, to match the jobs in the market. From 2014-2015 there were 30,835 graduates in the US from post-secondary institutions however 230,246 STEM jobs were added into the US, at the same time. That’s 7.5 jobs per graduate student.
If students, no matter where they are from, want to be competitive in the job market of the future, statistics are showing that the leading way to be competitive in STEM. Because of the lack of representation of STEM workers, there isn’t a better time to get into the industry not to mention, STEM workers on average, make more money than counterparts in other businesses.
In conclusion, the job market is going to become more STEM focused, the further we move into the digital age. No matter which career someone choses, they will be heavily impacted by STEM, even if STEM isn’t currently part of their job. We see computers replacing cashiers, robots replacing doctors and we have no idea what computers will be able to replace in 50 years. To guarantee a job for the future, we must engage in the sciences to secure out competitive advantage.
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“Bureau of Labor Statistics Data.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000.
Engler, John. STEM Education Is the Key to the U.S.’s Economic Future. US News, 15 June 2012, www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2012/06/15/stem-education-is-the-key-to-the-uss-economic-future.
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Woellert, Lorraine. “Companies Say 3 Million Unfilled Positions in Skill Crisis: Jobs.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 25 July 2012, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-07-25/companies-say-3-million-unfilled-positions-in-skill-crisis-jobs.