This comprehensive examination of STEM occupations and their role in our economy presents the researchers’ findings on the importance of this field. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) occupations are critical to our continued economic competitiveness because of their direct ties to innovation, economic growth, and productivity, even though they will only be five percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy by 2018. The disproportionate influence of STEM raises a persistent concern that the U.S. is not producing enough STEM workers to compete successfully in the global economy. The authors found that this concern is warranted—but not for the reasons traditionally claimed.
STEM workers are being paid high and rising wage premiums despite the increasing global supply. This suggests that the demand for these workers is not being met. Except for some PhD-level researchers in academia, the demand for workers in STEM occupations is increasing at every education level. The STEM supply problem goes beyond the need for more professional scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. The U.S. also needs more qualified technicians and skilled STEM workers in Advanced Manufacturing, Utilities and Transportation, Mining, and other technology-driven industries.
This report also addresses the transformation of sectors and occupations that traditionally did not require a STEM education. Previously, only a few elite workers completed STEM work. Today, competencies necessary for innovation are scattered across a wider swath of the economy.
A broader reach of occupations need STEM competencies, and their use is growing outside of STEM. People within these occupations that use STEM competencies most intensely are earning significantly more than those who are not.
The report builds a compelling argument that more investment and focus on STEM education and training are required to maintain the country’s competitiveness in the world economy.
This 112-page report includes STEM LMI projections through 2018.
Major Findings & Recommendations
- 38% of students who begin their postsecondary education pursuing a STEM major do not graduate with one.
- 43% of STEM graduates do not go into STEM occupations.
- After ten years, 46% of workers with a STEM-related bachelor’s degree will not be in the field.
- Approximately 8 million Americans used computer skills at their jobs, roughly double what the BLS would have classified as STEM computing jobs.
- A high percentage of CEOs in the United States did not begin their careers as engineers.
- Many divert because earnings are higher in healthcare professional and managerial and Professional positions, especially for those with higher educational attainment.