The Future of Work: The Value of STEM skills
What will the future of employment resemble? Recent work by the World Economic Forum predicts in-demand jobs and future trends including Algorithm Bias Auditor, Data Detective, Human-Machine Teaming Manager and Tidewater Architect.
Some future trends/adaptations include digitalization and automation of work processes, upskilling/reskilling of staff, restructuring, and workforce reduction. These trends/adaptations have increased in response to the pandemic, but they also mirror changes that started before the pandemic began.
These jobs and trends show that the future of work is one in which employees will need to be highly skilled so that they can interact with and develop new technology. They will also need to upskill and reskill as technology changes.
Further, by 2030, the U.K. will have over 7 million jobs that require scientific and technical skills. These jobs will offer continuing opportunities for development as well as higher salaries. The future workforce will need to be flexible, ready to learn and have desirable skills for the job market.
Finally, there is the issue of increasing automation. The WEF points out that although automation is replacing many jobs, there is an urgent need for the skills to build, develop and manage automation (The Future of Jobs Report 2020 | World Economic Forum (weforum.org).
Preparing Students for the Job Market of the Future.
Given this picture, how can educators prepare students for a such rapidly changing job market? The answer lies with the development of STEM education.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM includes programs that provide students with skills to succeed in the 21st-century job market. But STEM is not just about learning specific subjects. STEM also provides students with soft skills such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork and problem-solving. These soft skills are highly desirable to future employers.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of STEM education is that it provides real-world examples and application of skills. STEM education shows students how science, technology, computing, and engineering can solve real-world questions that benefit society, create innovation, and in some cases save lives.
As an example, Year 9 Data Science introduces students to the work of John Snow. Snow was a 19th-century physician who did not accept that disease was spread by bad air. Snow used a visualization called a dot map to illustrate cholera cases around a specific pump in London. He also used statistics to show the connection between the quality of the water source and cholera cases. Snow’s work founded the science of epidemiology. This example of the use of data, visualization and statistics led to crucial discoveries that ultimately saved lives.
The Value of STEM Education.
As students learn data science, they are asked to examine data and determine:
- what the data shows
- how the data can be visualized to tell a story
- what problem/solution the data and analysis provide.
This approach combines analysis with critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving. This curriculum reflects the value of STEM education because it goes beyond a simple explanation of data science and focuses on developing skills to understand, visualize, and communicate data. STEM education can also be thought of as a way of working because it provides a problem to solution-focused approach.
Although student engagement in STEM has been low, STEM careers can be discussed with students who want to study STEM as well as those who have not considered working in this area. For example, social sciences (the study of society and human behaviour) and design (the design and development of user interfaces) are other fields that can benefit the world of STEM.
Also, it is important to consider fields where solution-focused STEM practices can be embedded. For example, in health and social care, the increasing use of technology means that care workers must continually upgrade their technical skills. Technology use is now a crucial part of the job. Technology that collates records on tasks, medication, and observations of service users through time can provide valuable information on health and behaviour changes. In this example, technology is combined with the observational skills of the care workers to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the service users. Technology can also inform care workers about changes that they may miss, so technology is a useful learning and training tool.
STEM education provides numerous benefits for students and society. It teaches students core and soft skills, provides them with opportunities, and gives them a way of working that can benefit them wherever they go in their careers.
STEM is not just about the specific areas of study but is a way of thinking, problem-solving and providing solutions. Students in non-traditional STEM subjects should know that jobs and careers are available to them in scientific and technical fields.
Finally, technology and STEM practices can be applied in most fields to provide insight, innovation and improve outcomes.
Version 1 & SPSS Statistics Software
Allowing students to illustrate data accurately and communicate in a way that everyone can understand is down to the tool that is deployed, and this is where data analysis software such as SPSS can deliver real benefit.
Version 1’s experienced consultants are on hand to help you find the best software and license type for your analytical and usage requirements.
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The World Economic Forum (2021) Top 10 Jobs of the Future – For 2030 and Beyond. Available at: Top 10 Jobs of the Future – For (2030) And Beyond | World Economic Forum (weforum.org).
The World Economic Forum (2020) The Future of Jobs Report. Available at: The Future of Jobs Report 2020 | World Economic Forum (weforum.org).
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2011) Against the Odds: Disadvantaged Students Who Succeed in School. Available at: OECD, “Against the odds”, 2011.
Embassy Education (2021) 8 Reasons Why STEM Education is Important. Available at: 8 Reasons Why STEM Education Is Important (2021) (embassy.education).
The Royal College of Surgeons (2016) Mapping disease: John Snow and Cholera. Available at: Mapping disease: John Snow and Cholera — Royal College of Surgeons (rcseng.ac.uk).
STEM Learning (2022) The Teach Computing Curriculum. Year 9 Resources: Data Science. Available at: Data Science | STEM.