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More than 60% of people think they are not qualified for STEM careers

People are interested in STEM careers but many feel underqualified, while some don’t even know what counts as a STEM job, IBM finds

Most people feel they lack the necessary qualifications to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers, according to research by IBM.

The worldwide study found 61% of the 14,000 people asked said they don’t have the appropriate academic degree for a STEM job, and 60% believe gaining the digital skills for a STEM job would cost a lot.

Figures for the UK found two-thirds of those looking for a job and 75% of those thinking of changing career don’t think they have the qualifications for a STEM career.

Justina Nixon-Saintil, chief impact officer at IBM, said: “Technology training can have a transformational effect on a person’s life. There are many misconceptions about what's needed to pursue a rewarding and lucrative career in today’s rapidly advancing workplace.

“This is why we must raise awareness of the breadth of science and technology roles that exist across industries. Together with our IBM SkillsBuild partners, we’re highlighting the many pathways that exist for underrepresented communities to pursue futures in tech.” 

There is still a skills gap in the technology industry in the UK, with many digital leaders saying access to appropriate talent is standing in the way of completing projects.

But there are many reasons the tech pipeline is leaky – for example, many young people think it’s “too late” for them to pursue tech careers because of a lack of training.

More than 60% of global students and those looking to change career are looking for a new job in the next year, and 80% of people will spend the next two years developing their skills, with 90% saying they will turn to online courses to do so, according to the IBM study.

More than 85% of people who have learned digital skills said it helped their careers and many want to earn more digital skills.

In the UK, half of the students asked said they are interested in working in a STEM role, but 40% said they don’t know how to go about obtaining the professional or technical skills development to qualify for a job in STEM.

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Interest in STEM jobs is high, with half of those asked saying they would consider a STEM-related role, but many lack an understanding of what STEM roles are or what they involve.

There are long standing misconceptions about tech careers, the types of people who work in them, what they involve, or how to pursue them – 64% of those looking for a new career are not aware of the ins and outs of STEM jobs, with many not really knowing what roles within a STEM career count as a STEM job.

More than 60% of people asked said they are not sure if they could find a STEM role that would pay enough, but 66% think there will be an increase in STEM roles in the next 10 years.

UK students also have a better understanding of STEM roles - over 70% think the number of STEM jobs will increase over the next 10 years.

IBM has teamed up with 45 global education partners to help tackle some of the barriers surrounding STEM careers and provide people with the skills needed for such roles.

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