As per the recent message in this publication (“STEM 101,” April 2014), there is no universally agreed-upon definition of STEM. For the purposes of this month’s highlight, however, we’re focusing on occupations identified as STEM by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS looked at occupations in six broad groups from the Standard Occupational Classification Manual: 1) Management; 2) Computer and Mathematics; 3) Architecture and Engineering; 4) Life, Physical, and Social Sciences; 5) Education, Training, and Library; and 6) Sales and Related. (Though Healthcare occupations are commonly included in STEM, BLS offers a separate analysis of that sector, to be shared in a later edition of this newsletter.) From the full list of 100 STEM occupations* in these groups, here are the top three occupations projected to have the most job openings nationally 2012-2022:
*See Table 1 in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly – with source cited as “2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System, SOC Policy Committee recommendation to the Office of Management and Budget. Healthcare occupations are not included.” Source of Utah data in these tables is the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
In the following table are three occupations from the BLS list that you can typically enter with less than a Bachelor’s degree, and that will grow much faster than average through 2022 (a percent of current employment; average growth rate across all occupations is 11 percent):
You will notice that “Computer User Support Specialists” appears on both lists. The fact that this is an occupation that employs large numbers of workers, and that it is growing at almost twice the average rate, bodes well for students prepared for entry. For comparison: twenty percent of the 658,500 Computer User Support Specialists is 131,700 – significantly more than twenty percent of the 169,900 (33,980) Web Developers.
In addition to the technical skills foundation required in STEM occupations, workers must also have critical and creative thinking skills, and strong communication skills – technical writing, public speaking, and interpersonal communication. You can start developing technical, thinking, and communication skills while still in high school. Whether your career interests lead to a STEM career, or any other, a high school program of study that includes participation in a CTE Pathway of interest to you will help you succeed.