The numbers are getting better. Six in 10 Americans are interested in pursuing STEM careers, according to a new survey by Emerson.
However only 39% have ”felt encouraged to do so,” the study concludes.
When it comes to attracting women to the field, the numbers aren’t looking good. Two out of three women said they were not encouraged to pursue a career in STEM. Of that group, most attributed this missed opportunity in the workforce to stereotypes against women and a lack of female role models in the field.
To keep up with the rapid pace of change, workers of both genders are increasingly looking to their employers to address these upskilling needs: 79% of global respondents said they believe companies should do more to train and prepare their STEM workforce.
“As automation and technology become truly ingrained in our workplaces and schools, there’s a growing urgency to prepare the workforce with STEM skills that will be critical to the continued strength of the global economy,” said David N. Farr, CEO, Emerson. “We want to lead the charge in making strategic investments that will provide both the current and future workforce with the right skillsets to succeed in one of the many tremendous careers made available through STEM – from software development to new technologies in manufacturing.”
The growing emphasis on boosting STEM education is not surprising, as most of the world (94%) say they consider STEM education important to their respective country’s future. Despite this universal understanding of the importance of STEM, less than half of people surveyed believe their country is ahead in STEM innovation. Creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to pursue STEM can help address this perception – and contribute to growing the global STEM workforce.
While the survey found that younger generations across the globe are three times more likely to be encouraged to pursue STEM careers than generations before them, there are still several critical gaps to address – particularly as industries continue to report that they cannot find individuals with the skills required for today’s advanced workplaces. For example, the National Association of Manufacturers found that more than 70% of manufacturers are concerned about finding workers with appropriate skills.
“Empowering individuals of all ages and backgrounds with the tools necessary to thrive in STEM is a crucial step in solving the growing talent gap across several key industries,” said Kathy Button Bell, senior vice president for Emerson. “We have long been dedicated to fostering a culture at Emerson that attracts and advances women through a variety of initiatives, including our 4,000-member Women in STEM group, which provides support and mentoring for our female engineers globally.”
Emerson also has a program called “We Love STEM” which partners with more than 350 universities and technical colleges worldwide.