Career Connection: Decoding STEM: Challenges and Trends in Today’s Workforce | AIChE

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Career Connection: Decoding STEM: Challenges and Trends in Today’s Workforce

Career Connections
June
2024

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers offer unique challenges and opportunities at the forefront of innovation, from driving advancements in healthcare and technology to addressing global concerns like climate change. I have witnessed many STEM job seekers whose roles have changed across sectors. Notably, certain aspects of healthcare and finance, not traditionally considered STEM fields, have grown more reliant on professionals with science, math, engineering, and computational backgrounds.

This article examines the evolving STEM landscape, discussing its broader definitions and distinctions from various interpretations. In addition, it highlights the challenges confronting STEM employers.

The STEM workforce: Definition, size, and growth. Recent breakthroughs in science and technology (e.g., quantum technology, machine learning, and medicine) are reshaping the workforce and upending the conventional STEM framework. Innovations like automation and artificial intelligence (AI) propel this shift and blur the lines between traditional science and engineering disciplines.

According to the National Science Board’s 2022 report, the traditional definition of the STEM workforce, encompassing those with a bachelor’s degree or higher in science and engineering occupations, comprises about 6.6–7.5 million workers. A broader interpretation, including science and...

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