The Future of Work: STEM Training Is Important, But Likely Not Enough

Stem versus liberal artsFor the past few years, many companies have been going “all in” on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiatives when hiring towards tomorrow.  Strategies at both enterprise and small or mid-sized organizations range anywhere from focused hiring efforts today to influencing the curriculum in middle schools around the world.  All in the hopes of generating both interest and the proficiency of tomorrow’s candidates within these fields of technology and science.

But will STEM training be enough?

Piggy-backing on a recently recommended reading from CXR friend John Sumser, where he mentions the book, “You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education” we’d share with you a quote from the executive summary of a recent American Academy of Arts and Sciences report,  The Heart of the Matter.

“Three out of four employers want schools to place more emphasis on the skills that the humanities and social sciences teach: critical thinking and complex problem-solving, as well as written and oral communication.”

The TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) can be summed up simply to employers by asking them one question.  Are you focused equally on building teams that have the skills to solve the technical challenges of tomorrow but who also possess, or are complimented with, the critical thinking and communication skills or people to understand and share the complexities of the work to their leaders and/or customers?

We’re confident that the need for STEM skills in future candidates won’t subside anytime soon.  Even within the recruiting industry, we continue to see an exponential interest in the field of Recruiting Automation (A.I., machine learning, etc. for recruiting processes) and found an excellent example of the need for softer skills in a recent conversation with a leader from one of our current CareerXroads member companies.

“The ‘artificial intelligence’ solution the vendor was showing me could have been exactly what I needed.  But this guy just couldn’t explain the product to me in plain terms and I can’t invest in that.”

Vendors might want to let that last part sink in for a moment.