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  • AstraWorks

U.S. Employment Challenges: STEM-ing the Talent Shortage

By 2030, we could be facing a global talent shortage of 85.2 million people, according to a recent study by Korn Ferry. If you slice that down to the U.S. pie, the financial impact of this talent shortage could mean our country missing out on $8.452 trillion in unrealized annual revenue before the next decade – that’s roughly 6% of our entire economy. Korn Ferry’s report warns that “the United States faces one of the most alarming talent crunches of any country” and most companies are looking to technology to help stop the gap. However, without enough human workers with the right skills, we’ll continue to see growing talent shortages.

Whether it’s STEM jobs, skilled trades or the aging workforce, challenges and opportunities abound. This summer, we’ll be taking a deeper look at the issues and ways we might be able to lessen the gap of the talent shortage. This month, we tackle the STEM shortage – because in January 2022 alone, more than 340,000 unfilled IT jobs were posted in the U.S., up by 12% from last year.

STEM Talent: Help Wanted x 3.5 Million

STEM has become a part of our daily vernacular, and the sector is set for job growth at 8% through the decade. Yet by 2025, economists estimate we’ll need to fill 3.5 million STEM jobs.

Why the disparity? It’s not that we’re lacking for interest or understanding of the topic, but it’s because we’re not training Americans to be fit to fill these positions. Most attribute the gap to a lack of access to STEM training early enough – or even at all – in today’s education, and to a lack of focus on bringing up STEM talent among women and people of color.

  • While women have increased their share of employment in health-related STEM occupations, only 1 in 4 people in STEM-related computer occupations were filled by women despite being 50% of the total college-educated workforce (U.S. Census data). For Black workers, that number is less than 1 in 10 in STEM jobs.

  • American Affairs Journal and the White House reported that only 20% of high school graduates are prepared for college-level coursework in STEM majors, and the U.S. has produced only 10% of the world’s science and engineering grads over the past 15 years.

Solution: Retain More International Talent

While Americans lag in STEM graduates, international students have flooded the market. Year over year, almost half of all U.S. master’s and doctorate degrees awarded in STEM fields have gone to international students, yet hundreds of thousands of STEM jobs continue to go unfilled. In order to extend international students’ stay in the United States after graduation, the federal government recently expanded the Optional Practical Training program to allow international students to work for 12 months in a U.S.-based job related to their field of study.

Solution: Make STEM More Diverse

Scientific progress relies on creating unique solutions derived from diverse perspectives. But the lack of women and minorities in STEM isn’t just a diversity problem – it’s a labor force problem. Increasing those diverse perspectives starts in early childhood. Yet most of the time, schools don’t have the funding necessary to create the type of environment, staff resources, technologies and materials. Increasing scholarships and grants for post-high school education encourages a more diverse candidate pool for STEM jobs, as does increasing diversity and inclusion throughout hiring. For example, the architecture and construction industry supports diversity through a program called ACE Mentor and many STEM-based companies offer college scholarships for diverse education.

If you’re in need of growing a diverse, STEM-focused talent base, give us a call today.

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