What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Sometimes this is also known as STEAM which is STEM plus Arts.

Why are STEM subjects important?

STEM benefits students by gaining skills required to succeed in the 21st-century job market. They help to develop critical thinking, reasoning, and investigative skills, whilst nurturing innovation and creativity. By stimulating a young person’s innate curiosity about the world and allowing them to explore and ask questions from an early age, we can help develop a long-lasting passion for science and discovery. Learning about the power of technology and innovation in turn prepares students to embrace the developments instead of being apprehensive and hesitant when they have experience of ‘new tech’.

Most careers require an amount of knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Even subject areas that you would least expect. E.g. a psychologist will need to learn data analysis in order to figure out what people are usually troubled with. This is why STEM education is essential: as it is about being ready for university, job opportunities, and life.


EDF Energy commissioned a study by the Social Market Foundation (2016) on, ‘Jobs of the Future’. This revealed that science, research, engineering, and technology jobs will grow at double the rate of other occupations creating 142,000 extra jobs between now and 20231. The study also showed that:

  • Computing skills will be the most in demand, with the most job openings and highest number of new jobs (25%)
  • Across other industries science, research, engineering and technology jobs are expected to account for 7.8% of all jobs in the UK, equivalent to 2,525, 000 jobs.

The demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) skills is growing. STEM is valuable in all our lives and its importance is increasing. By studying STEM subjects this can help students get into and be more effective in a range of careers.

With the rise of new technologies, STEM graduates are in high demand. Computer scientists, engineers and data analysts are all seeing an increase in job opportunities as the industries evolve.

Engineering UK emphasised that the country would need 1.8 million new engineers and technicians by 2025 to meet the needs of our future society. When they surveyed 11-19 year old they found that they 47% stated that they knew little or almost nothing about what engineers do. These would be the engineers of the future.

STEM courses give an opportunity to find solutions to problems across a range of industries. Technical skills, innovation and creativity are all important skills to help consider different perspectives. For example, the development of self-driving vans for delivering online goods opens a curious debate on the morals and ethics of autonomous vehicles.

Fundamentally STEM education inspires teamwork and problem-solving, which are valuable skills that can be applied to any career. Another key advantage of studying a STEM subject is that skills are in high demand and can really make a difference to the world in 21st-century. Due to this currently graduates with science, engineering and maths qualifications are amongst the highest paid.

STEM websites:

Cogent skills – information about the UK science industry, includes careers and qualifications.

CRAC: The Career Development Organisation– provides access to the career experiences of real people through their stories. It includes inspiring examples of STEM careers at a variety of levels, and through the stories describes the pathways of people who used their STEM courses as a springboard into other opportunities.

Maths Careers – The Maths careers site presents opportunities using maths in six main areas – sport, science and engineering, entertainment, business and money, health and society, the environment and a general ‘I love Maths’ section.

National Careers Service – explore careers, science-related careers - biomedical, agricultural, animal science, laboratories, environmental, forensic, and more – find information on STEM careers.

NHS Careers - healthcare careers, including medical, paramedical, scientist, psychological, and more

Routes into engineering careers  - and other information

Science and Technology Facilities Council careers  – careers and skills needed for the science industries

SEMTA - information on science, engineering and manufacturing sectors, including careers and apprenticeships

STEM & Siemens - manufacturer using electrification, digitalisation and automation

STEM Learning - bursaries and resources 

STEMNET – The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network helps schools/colleges to understand the range of STEM Enhancement & Enrichment opportunities available to them.  

Tomorrow’s Engineers – A site that provides information about engineering careers, access to teaching resources and links to over 50 other relevant organisations. 

WISE – my skills, my life - Women into Science, Technology and Engineering

Women in STEM - women talking about their STEM career – This site offers a free University Information Service for science, engineering, and technology.