The Importance of STEM Subjects

New report shows science and tech jobs will grow twice as fast as other occupations

Encouraging girls into science critical to filling future skills gap and boosting benefit of growth to the UK

A new study; ‘Jobs of the Future’, released today reveals that science, research, engineering and technology jobs will grow at double the rate of other occupations creating 142,000 extra jobs between now and 20231. This is the year girls currently choosing their GCSEs are expected to start entering the workplace.

The study from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) was commissioned by EDF Energy, as part of its “Pretty Curious” programme to inspire more girls to consider science and technology careers.  To coincide EDF Energy has today launched a new virtual reality film to help girls see successful women at work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related careers.

It found:

  • JOBS OF THE FUTURE: There will be 142,000 new jobs in science, research, engineering and technology from now to 2023
  • RAPID RISE:  Jobs in science, research, engineering and technology fields will grow twice as fast as other careers (6% vs 3%), driven by factors including the pace of infrastructure investment and digital innovation
  • SKILLS SHORTAGE:  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 engineering2
  • GENDER GAP NEEDS TO NARROW: Getting more girls 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; Data Scientists 

The 'Jobs of the Future' report uses new analysis of Government data and examines trends in the growth of science, research, engineering and technology jobs.  It shows their respective growth and in which region and industry this growth will take place. The research predicts that computing skills will be the most in demand with the highest number of new jobs (25% - see table 1).

Demand for traditional science and engineering-focussed areas such as research and development and specialised construction will remain high, driven by the Government’s commitment to ongoing investment in infrastructure. However, even areas like retail, head offices, PR and consultancy and legal, accounting and financial services will also have high demand for science, research, engineering and technology skills between now and 2023.

Almost a quarter (22%) or 142,000 of the vacancies in science, research, engineering and technology created between 2016 and 2023 will be new jobs. The industries creating the highest number of new jobs include; construction (43%), specialised construction (63%) and retail and head offices (both 36%).

Nida Broughton, chief economist at the Social Market Foundation, said: “Investments in infrastructure and the pace of technological innovation means growth in science, research, engineering and technology careers will continue to outpace other occupations. That’s a big opportunity for today’s girls and a challenge for the UK’s industrial strategy. It’s essential that we invest in the skills and training so that the UK can meet this demand – and encouraging more women to consider science will be critical to our success.”

To recruit the numbers needed to fulfil the expected demand for roles in 2023 and support the UK's industrial strategy, more girls will need to study science subjects at school, further education and higher education3.

In 2016 there were an estimated 462,000 women working in science, research, engineering and technology (19%); if there was gender parity that number would be 1.2 million. In addition, women are particularly underrepresented in the roles and industries identified in the report as likely to see the most job openings in the future, such as in computing services (16%), architecture (10%), specialist construction (8%) and construction (13%) (see table 1).

The energy industry is being transformed by new technologies, with customers wanting new ways to manage energy, and electricity generation switching to low carbon. As the UK’s largest low carbon electricity generator, largest supplier of electricity by volume and biggest investor in future low carbon generation, EDF Energy has major requirements for STEM skills. It believes far more girls are needed to take up STEM careers to meet future skills requirements.

Sarah Flannigan, chief information officer at EDF Energy said: “As well as investing in digital innovation and R&D to help our customers manage their energy better, we are building the first new nuclear power station for a generation. 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 20183 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.”

As part of its 'Pretty Curious' programme, EDF Energy has created a virtual-reality film that immerses girls in the worlds of three successful women working in the most in demand STEM-related industries in 2023, the year those currently choosing their GCSEs will graduate. Viewers will be transported to EDF Energy’s offshore wind farm in Teesside with renewable energy research engineer Claire Canning, to the top of the Shard with structural engineer Roma Agrawal and to an East London shared workspace where computer coder Claire Mitchell introduces the girls to the community of coders that sit behind technology experienced daily.

The ‘Pretty Curious’ programme aims to change the perception of STEM subjects and help address the lack of women entering the industry.

EDF Energy’s virtual reality film can be viewed at edfenergy.com/prettycurious

To view the full report, visit edfenergy.com/prettycurious/jobsofthefuture