What are STEM skills?

STEM skills provide the foundations for science, technology, engineering and maths. They are valuable across a wide range of STEM industries and sectors.

Some key STEM skills include:

  • Critical thinking: The ability to objectively analyse, evaluate, and interpret information. Critical thinking skills enable you to form accurate judgements, solve problems, and reach well-founded conclusions.
  • Creativity: The ability to think outside the box and develop new ideas, solutions, and approaches to problems.
  • Communication: Effectively conveying ideas through writing, speaking, or visual representation.
  • Numeracy: The ability to understand, manipulate, and work with numbers. This is a crucial STEM employability skill with a wide range of applications, from building bridges and synthesising chemicals to launching rockets.
  • Research skills: The ability to source reliable data and apply those findings to theories and concepts.
  • Scientific literacy: Understanding scientific principles, conducting experiments, and applying the scientific method.
  • Collaboration: Working well in teams, sharing knowledge, and contributing to group efforts.
Two female technology students using their STEM skills to build an electronic circuit.

Why are STEM skills important?

STEM skills empower us to understand and shape the world we live in, driving progress in modern society. Without STEM skills, we couldn’t develop medicines or vaccines. There wouldn’t be any skyscrapers or other feats of engineering. We wouldn’t have phones, laptops, or tablets.

STEM skills are about using our creativity and knowledge to tackle big challenges and bring incredible ideas to life. Whether it’s exploring space or inventing new technology, STEM skills are the key to creating the future we envision.

STEM skills and careers

Having a range of STEM skills can open the doors to an array of exciting career opportunities. In these rapidly advancing fields, new jobs are being created all the time. It may well be that your dream job doesn’t exist yet! According to one popular estimate, 65% of children who entered primary school in 2016 will end up working in positions that don’t yet exist.

In 2018, some of the highest paying STEM degrees included:

Degree titleAverage salary (£)
Aeronautical Engineering51,448
Civil Engineering47,503
Computer Science47,503
Chemical Engineering45,527
Life Science43,872
Electrical Engineering43,412
Mechanical Engineering38,752

What is the STEM skill gap?

The ‘STEM skill gap’ refers to the shortage of skilled and experienced workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths.

Due to technological advancements and evolving industries, there’s a growing demand for individuals with STEM skills. However, there’s a shortage of candidates who possess the necessary qualifications and experience to meet this demand. As a result, industries may struggle to fill positions, hindering innovation, economic growth, and development within STEM sectors.

Supporting the development of STEM skills is crucial for the UK’s future. The Government and numerous organisations are actively working to bridge the STEM skill gap. Over the past few years, a range of campaigns, initiatives, and apprenticeship schemes have been introduced, all aimed at fostering and nurturing new talent in these critical fields.

Engineer showing apprentices how to use a machine.

Become an innovator

Science and technology are advancing faster than ever before, so it’s a particularly exciting time to consider a career in STEM.

The skills required for STEM careers can be applied to a wide range of jobs, giving you the freedom to pursue your passions while making a positive impact on the world. Even if you don’t embark on a STEM degree or career, studying these subjects in school is not a waste of time – it’s quite the opposite.