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STEM Skills In Demand


July 10, 2014


STEM Skills In Demand

Two recent reports examine the state of the STEM job market and how well educational attainment aligns with STEM workforce demand.

A Brookings publication analyzing online job postings from Burning Glass found that STEM job openings take longer to fill than openings in other career fields, typically more than twice as long. In addition, STEM job openings that require less than a bachelor's degree take longer to fill than non-STEM jobs that call for a bachelor's degree. Brookings also analyzed other sources of job vacancy data from early 2014 that demonstrate five job openings per unemployed worker in computer fields, 3.3 job openings for each unemployed health care practitioner and 1.7 job openings for each unemployed worker skilled in architecture/engineering. Author Jonathan Rothwell concludes that demand for STEM skills outpaces supply (while noting that online job postings skew towards particular industries and education levels).  

If STEM is in demand, are enough students graduating with skills to meet this demand? A recent GAO report digs into STEM degree-earning and finds that STEM degrees awarded have increased, but the bulk of this growth has been in health care. Degrees awarded in "core" STEM fields (engineering, life sciences, physical sciences, computer and information technology, and math and statistics) grew at much slower rates than non-STEM fields. The authors conclude that it's difficult to measure how well the STEM workforce aligns to STEM education because STEM demand varies with economic conditions, because there is a lag between current demand and the students in the STEM education pipeline now and because many STEM-educated workers are employed in non-STEM fields.

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