Preparing for a career in STEM

The world we are living in is changing, there are many global challenges we are facing and we are reliant on science and technology to overcome them. By 2025, it is expected that STEM related jobs are set to rise by 3.5 million with more than 2 million jobs anticipated to be unfilled because not enough people are entering the industry (source).

With this in mind, we have put together a guide to help you prepare for a career in the STEM sector. Calling all budding scientists, engineering and mathematicians; this one’s for you!

What you need to know

Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room… What does STEM actually mean? STEM stands for:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering 
  • Maths

You may have also heard of “STEAM” careers, STEAM covers the subjects listed above with the addition of Art. 

Both employers and educators are focusing on STEM subjects and interdisciplinary learning due to the global need for specialists within these fields. By teaching students in an interdisciplinary way in a project based learning environment, lessons resemble “real life” challenges that students would face in the outside world.

This will require you to use your scientific knowledge, maths ability, problem solving skills and technology know-how to overcome challenges. Similarly to the real world, is it very rare that a challenge will involve just one skillset or knowledge base. This is why interdisciplinary learning is so crucial to a student's development. 

Why is STEM so important?

The importance of STEM is demonstrated in our everyday lives, a life where you can simply ask Alexa or Google anything you need to know. Our global challenges are no longer simply a case of knowing the answer, it’s about knowing which questions need to be asked and how to think creatively to overcome problems. STEM helps you to develop these skills and prepares you for the real world, and your future. 

It is important to note that you do not need the most expensive or up to date equipment in order to develop the skill set needed for the future of STEM. You need an inquisitive mind, a nurturing environment to develop your thought processes and skills as well as the education to learn about the key concepts within science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Key Benefits

Here are some of the key benefits of careers in STEM:

  • Guaranteed opportunities within the workplace for the rest of their lives
  • Uncapped earning potential - good for those motivated by money!
  • The potential to make a real difference to world and the lives of millions of people
  • Develop skills for life such as problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork and many more

What can I do to learn more about STEM careers?

  1. Understanding the sector: There are lots of things you can do at home, simply understanding potential job opportunities within STEM is a great start. The Career Pilot, Prospects and Tomorrow’s Engineer websites are all great resources for this. 
  2. Developing skills: You can increase your skillset at home by working on a STEM based project,  here are some ideas. You can talk about this in future university and apprenticeship applications to show your interest in the subject.
  3. Exploring University: Universities across the UK offer a wide range of STEM based webinars, summer school opportunities and taster sessions. You can find these on the individual universities websites or sites such as UniTasterDays or UCAS offer a showcase of events where you can see several universities offerings all in one place.
  4. Exploring Apprenticeships: You can use the Not Going to Uni website to look at current engineering apprenticeship opportunities. This will help you to understand the types of roles on offer, the entry requirements for these roles and what skills employers are looking for.

Key takeaways

STEM education is essential for the future of our world. Accelerating your skills, education and experiences within the STEM field will prepare you for a future within a career offering a wide range of benefits.

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