The technologically based data driven world in which we live in has made STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and STEM careers of great importance. There are certain STEM fields and occupations where the need for workers is expected to be greatest. The fastest growing jobs include statisticians, operations research analysts, forensic science technicians, biomedical engineers, mathematicians, computer systems analysts, actuaries, software developers, and information security analysts.
Because there is such a high need for skilled professionals at all educational levels there is a shortage of STEM workers who have either associate degrees or attended trade school (Xue & Larson, 2014). There are two careers which usually require an associate degree, one is a computer user support specialist, which is expected to grow by 12.8% and the other is a web developer which is predicted
to grow by 26.6% from 2014 to 2024 (Fayer et al., 2017).
The government and government-related sector has shortages in specific areas such as nuclear engineering, materials science, electrical engineering, cybersecurity, and intelligence. This is not necessarily because of lack of STEM professionals but due to the lack of STEM professionals who are U.S. citizens (Xue & Larson, 2014). This is often criteria for employment that requires certain security clearances.
The private sector has shortages with petroleum engineers in certain geographic locations, data scientists, and software developers (Xue & Larson, 2014).
There is also demand for STEM skills below the bachelor’s level. A 2011 survey of manufacturers found that as many as 600,000 jobs remain unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates for technical positions requiring STEM skills, primarily in production (machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors, and technicians) (The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, 2011). While the
number of job openings in this sector has decreased since 2011, there were still 264,00 opening in 2014 (BLS, 2014).
Maiorca, C., Stohlmann, M., & Driessen, M. (2019). Getting to the bottom of the truth: STEM shortage or STEM surplus? In A. Sahin & M. Mohr-Schroeder (Eds.). Myths and Truths: What Has Years of K-12 STEM Education Research Taught Us? (pp.22-35). Boston, MA: Brill.