News Feature | July 24, 2014

Study Shows Difficulty Filling STEM Jobs

By Cheryl Knight, contributing writer

STEM Job Positions Difficult To Fill

A new job study was released from Brookings that analyzed data supplied by Burning Glass. The report details a shortage of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professional jobs and reveals that these STEM positions take longer to fill than openings in other fields.

The report states, “These job openings data provide new evidence that, post-recession, STEM skills, particularly those associated with high levels of educational attainment, are in high demand among employers. Meanwhile, job seekers possessing neither STEM knowledge nor higher education face extraordinary levels of competition for a scarce number of jobs.”

The Brookings report went on to say, “Governments at all levels, educators, training organizations, and civic leaders can utilize job vacancy data to better understand the opportunities available to workers and the specific skills required of them. Improving educational and training opportunities to acquire STEM knowledge should be part of any strategy to help unemployed or low-wage workers improve their earnings and employability.”

The Numbers And What They Mean

STEM job numbers show a sharp drop in filling vacancies after the initial job listing, with just two-thirds of the jobs listed finding a likely candidate within the first 33 days. One-fifth of those job postings stay up at least 70 days, and half of those require high levels of knowledge when it involves a STEM job.

The data shows that filling STEM jobs becomes more difficult when the level of knowledge required to fill that job increases. Other factors that result in longer durations for filling STEM jobs include a higher level of education and the higher pay that results from that, as well as possessing skills more highly valued in association with STEM career fields.

Advertising Times Increase With Education Requirements

As a result of this, STEM vacancies entail longer advertising times for job vacancies when compared to non-STEM occupations. The study results also show that as the education requirements for a vacancy increase, so does the required time to fill it. And while the job advertisement requirements for filling a STEM job vary according to the level of education required, STEM jobs in general show a longer duration overall when it comes to filling them.

A survey of over 1,700 executives nationwide by the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) has shown a glaring shortage of qualified individuals in the technology sector. According to Steven G. Zylstra, TECNA chairman, in a November 2013 BSM article, “Companies are feeling better about business conditions, but the talent shortage issue has the potential to sidetrack growth.”

And according to a Huffington Post article, during the period from 2009 to 2012, there was a shortage of STEM professionals, with nearly two STEM-related jobs being posted for every person with the required knowledge to fill the position.