Bridging STEM Skills Gap in Asia: Is Early Intervention the Key?

May 17, 20168:42 am939 views

Could earlier engagement with school children help bridge the talent gap that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) reliant industries face? According to recruiting experts Hays, that’s one potential solution to STEM skill shortage that will only intensify in the years ahead.

Advances in technology continue to evolve at a rate of knots, but businesses that need staff with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills are struggling to find the people they so desperately need.

“Not only are we seeing demand for these professionals increase across the globe but a high number of STEM workers are reaching retirement age, adding further pressure to an already skill-short area,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“We must find a solution, one that involves businesses, governments, educational institutes and parents working together.”

According to Christine, intervention at an earlier age could solve the issue. “If children were made aware of STEM careers and STEM related learning experiences were implemented earlier, it could inspire an interest in those subjects and ultimately, careers,” she said.

“Engaging children at secondary school is too late. At this age children are already choosing elective subjects and their opinions have already begun to be formed.”

But if STEM subjects could inspire children early on, they would learn that these subjects actually encompass a lot of modern and exciting technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and software engineering.

See: Employers in Asia Should Redefine Talent to Bridge the Skills Gap

“Not only do children need to be educated on what jobs can result from STEM subjects, parents do too. Engineering is such a broad term. Children, parents and teachers should be told about the various aspects and job types so that there’s a coordinated response to the STEM skill shortage.”

As Ben Rossi states in an interesting piece on Information Age: “Balancing the gender scales is creeping to the top of the HR agenda for many industries dependant on these skills, but solving the issue is not as easy as making one simple change.

It may not be a conscious decision not to hire more women in STEM, but could businesses be doing more to engage young women in early education by inspiring them to become the next Joan Clarke or Marissa Mayer?

“Young women are still deterred by the lingering perception that they would have to work harder than men to achieve the same goals in the industry. Many are also disillusioned, not only with the lack of information about the STEM career opportunities available to them, but also by the fact that the language used to describe the roles often undersells the opportunity and can make it appear unexciting and uninspiring.”

Companies that want to increase profits should work to increase the number of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) roles, according to an executive survey by the Futurestep division of Korn Ferry, the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm.

“Clients who understand the positive cultural and financial impact of having women in STEM roles often require that women candidates be included in the recruiting mix,” said Samantha Wallace, Futurestep Technology Market Leader for North America. “This doesn’t mean that the women will get preferential treatment, it simply helps create a diverse pool from which to choose.”

“There are many reasons why today’s companies have a low percentage of female STEM workers, including the fact that fewer young women than young men are choosing this field as their college major and profession,” Wallace added. “The silver lining though, is that we do see a slow but positive trend for more women in these roles.”

Also read: Contracting could be the Solution to Close Skills Gap in Japan

Image credit: cnbc.com

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