Engineer your career

Looking for an exciting role with plenty of personal and financial gains? Have you thought about a STEM career? Flora Neighbour writes...

My uncle was a sci-fi nerd of the highest order. I used to admire his passion for the subject, but now I admire how his involvement with what seemed like escapism at the time is actually, in some ways, our current reality – he was ahead of the times! I’m not talking cyborgs and time travel, but a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) could mean, in the near future, a role as a robotics engineer or delving into the world of drone development. Although becoming a space pilot is a ridiculously cool reason to start a career in one of those subjects, there are plenty of other motives to get on the first rung of the STEM ladder.

You may have heard of ‘STEM education’ and ‘STEM jobs’, but did you know that it is fast becoming the go-to career option for graduates? There are many reasons to consider the STEM field, such as less competition, helping with innovation and great pay (studies have shown that 63 per cent of people with a degree in STEM-related work get paid more than someone with a bachelor’s degree in anything else*). Studying engineering teaches students valuable skills like problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking, and these skills are transferable to a wide array of careers. According to the same research, every year almost three and a half million jobs in the STEM fields go unfilled, while another recent report found that more than 600 UK organisations run initiatives that seek to engage schools with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).**

It can be a little confusing when merging your studies in the classroom with the opportunities in work, but it’s easier than you think. There are a huge variety of career paths that require STEM-based skills such as entertainment, aerospace and transport, telecoms and IT, finance and accountancy, sport and fashion, health, energy and the environment, construction, agriculture, and, of course, space. In actual fact, according to the Ready to Grow: CBI Education and Skills survey, 72 per cent of all UK businesses rely on people with STEM skills, and many large businesses will offer STEM-based apprenticeships.

Although the industry is notoriously male-orientated, the gender gap within it is narrowing, and, according to the WISE analysis of female representation on FTSE 100 boards 2016, the STEM sector’s female employees have increased significantly since 2015. However, the STEM sector still lags behind the non-STEM sector, and is constantly looking for more women to enter into the industry. In terms of career identity, explorative and committed women (and men) are in high demand, and in order to sustain the growth, the number of women must substantially increase.

Touted as having the potential for high pay and rapid career progression, STEM careers can lead to a very happy work-life balance. However, it’s not one to be taken lightly, as it can be very competitive and you will often have heavy workloads, but, if you work hard, you will feel the benefits. A rewarding career route, a role in STEM is a great choice for graduates. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a space pilot? The possibilities are endless.