Report reveals huge growth for UK STEM careers

Posted on 19 Jan 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Science, research, engineering and technology jobs are expected to grow at double the rate of other occupations creating 142,000 jobs between now and 2023, according to a new report published this week by the Social Market Foundation and EDF.

The study – Jobs of the Future – was commissioned by EDF Energy as part of its ‘Pretty Curious’ programme, which aims to change the perception of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects and inspire more young women to consider associated STEM careers.

The report used new analysis of government data and examines trends in the growth of science, research, engineering and technology jobs. The research predicts that computing skills will be the most in demand with the highest number of new jobs (25%).

Key findings:

  • There will be 142,000 new jobs in science, research, engineering and technology from now to 2023
  • Jobs in science, research, engineering and technology fields will grow twice as fast as other careers (6% versus 3%), driven by factors including the pace of infrastructure investment and digital innovation
  • Current figures show there will be a shortfall in the number of graduates and apprentices available to fill these roles. For example, there will be a 40% shortfall in engineering
  • Getting more young women to consider these careers is essential to the success of UK industrial strategy – currently women are less than a quarter of the workforce in four of the five most in-demand industries
  • Future jobs include: computer coders; geotechnical design engineers; intelligence consultants; robotics engineers, and data scientists

Demand for traditional science and engineering-focused areas, such as R&D and specialised construction are expected to remain high, driven by government’s commitment to ongoing investment in infrastructure.

However, even areas such as retail, PR, consultancy and legal, and financial services are tipped to raise demand for science, research, engineering and technology skills between now and 2023.

Promoting STEM careers to young women

To meet the increased demand for roles, it’s vital that more young women elect to study STEM-related subjects at school, further education and higher education.

EDF estimate that less than one-in-five (19% or 462,000) people working in science, research, engineering and technology are women. Were the number of women to match that of men working in industry, the number would be upwards of 1.2 million.

Chief information officer at EDF Energy, Sarah Flannigan explained: “We rely on the talents of people with a variety of STEM skills and recognise the critical need to inspire more young women to enter these fields.

“That is why we’re aiming to increase our intake of female STEM apprentices to 30% by 2018 and we hope by using innovative technology that appeals to teens, we will reach more girls and inspire them to consider science and technology careers.”

Stephanie Fernandes, of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), commented: “In the wake of the Brexit vote and the government’s ambitious and welcome commitment to invest in science and innovation to boost the UK’s productivity, there has never been a more important time to tackle the fundamental engineering skills gaps and shortages in the UK head on.

“It is also a great time to be an engineer: demand far outstrips supply, salaries are rising and there are fantastic career prospects for tomorrow’s engineers. But we cannot rely on these factors to attract enough engineers to address the growing skills shortage in the UK.

“We must also take action to ensure a pipeline of future engineering talent, for example by promoting stronger collaboration between employers and the educational system to provide work experience for those in education and training, by encouraging more women and returners into engineering – and by looking at how best to upskill the existing engineering workforce to meet the fast-changing needs of modern engineering and technology.

“We also need further clarity from the government in their proposed Industrial Strategy on how the UK will be able to recruit the anticipated shortfall of engineers needed over the next decade as we move closer to exiting the EU.”

EDF Energy has launched a new virtual reality film to help promote successful women at work in STEM careers: