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Can STEM talent shortage be stemmed?


Britain’s STEM skills shortage is easing, with candidates’ appetite for STEM jobs now reaching 90 percent of the number of vacancies. Comment Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at the global job site, Indeed.

Three years ago STEM vacancies outnumbered candidates by nearly two to one. The NHS is Britain’s biggest STEM recruiter, with universities, financial services and medical technology firms dominating the top 20. The once chronic imbalance between British employers’ need for recruits with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills and the number of candidates is easing, according to data released by the world’s biggest job site Indeed.

Indeed’s analysis reveals that at the start of 2014 the number of STEM vacancies outnumbered candidates by nearly two to one. Yet by July 2017 the number of people searching on Indeed for STEM jobs had reached 90 percent of the number of vacancies.

The ratio has risen from 0.57 in January 2014 to 0.90 in July 2017, showing the supply of suitable candidates has now almost caught up with employer demand. The analysis also reveals a generational split among jobseekers, with Millennials and Generation Xers the most interested in STEM jobs. Indeed’s data shows 30-somethings are the keenest on STEM roles (they are 16 percent more likely to search for a STEM job than other work).

By contrast Baby Boomers are less attracted to STEM – candidates aged between 61 and 65 are 38 percent less likely to look for STEM jobs than other roles. STEM careers aren’t the exclusive preserve of graduates, and 13 percent of the 200 most popular STEM jobs listed on Indeed are entry level roles that don’t require a university qualification. The most popular of these junior roles is chiropractic assistant – with an average of 30 jobseekers clicking on each vacancy.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britain’s biggest STEM recruiter is also its biggest employer – the NHS. From January 2017 to September 2017, the NHS listed nearly 5,000 STEM vacancies on Indeed.

Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at the global job site, Indeed, comments:

“The UK is becoming an increasingly knowledge-based economy, and employers are crying out for people with STEM skills. Even companies not operating in the tech sector require growing support from STEM workers.

“Skills gaps can hamper productivity and hold back economic growth, so it’s great news that the message about STEM is getting through – and more people are seeking STEM careers.

“This summer the number of A-Level students taking STEM subjects rose again, which bodes well for the future too. Even though the STEM skills gap is easing, employer demand still exceeds the number of suitable candidates – meaning those who leave school or university with good STEM qualifications can take their pick from a range of challenging and rewarding careers.”

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