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STEM Jobs Myth

STEM Jobs Myth

They tell young students in college to major in STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) but what if there aren't enough STEM jobs to go around? An article in the NY Times explodes the idea that majoring in STEM will get you jobs. Basically the only STEM major that will potentially net you a job are those related to the computer industry. Life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and even engineering do not produce enough jobs for all of the graduates with those degrees. The only major that has enough jobs, and that is barely, is computer science. Wow! That is appalling and dismal.

There's just not enough of those jobs around, especially if everybody is trying to keep costs down to satisfy the shareholders.

Also, the people running the companies or departments have to understand it. If they are not inclined toward those topics, then there won't be interest in them or know how to deploy those skills. You have to understand what's involved and the potential before you can imagine deploying those skills. You just can't conceive of the possibilities.

Take something simple as Excel. Everybody in corporate world uses Excel - well, almost everybody - but they don't go much beyond simple adding and subtracting with some 

multiplication/division thrown in. Amazingly, some don't use pivot tables. The tool is available, you can use it to make mistakes without wrecking the core data or structure, and there are plenty of books available to teach you, but the use of Excel does not extend beyond simplistic math. I think they just can't conceive of the concept of making Excel do the grunt work for you.

Then there is all of that breathless talk about big data, analytics and machine learning/AI. I suspect that the real findings are not going to be in all of that fancy technology because it is going to involve the slog of producing amazing products or service with a help of engaging marketing. So fantastic execution, gorgeous design and superlative service will be the winning qualities (and affordable price - forget about the world of 99% unemployment in this scenario.)

And, there is another thought. I believe I wrote a post some time ago about how in business we really don't use much math beyond summing, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Only the engineers and computer science go beyond into integrals, linear equations, eigenvalues and what not, but most average Americans just don't get involve in that. Just think, roughly only 30% of the American population goes to college and graduates and in that 30%, there is a smaller percentage that major in STEM. (While doing a quick research, the only statistics I could find was 20% for women and 40% for men but there is not enough detail to determine the mix of men to women and whether that was just bachelors or all degrees).

There was actually an article written in the NY Times asking why do we teach math such as trigonometry and calculus when most of us don't use it. And there is a book called The Math Myth written by the same author (I have it and still need to read it - so much reading to do).

I imagine education teaches those math topics to find out who has the skills for such math. According to that article, not many students regard those topics as easy. Many struggle to graduate high school, never mind pursuing higher education math. So it could be a way of signaling to educators who should be directed or encouraged into such fields. 

I also think that knowing math and coding or some element of computer science will be table stakes in the future. So even if there won't be enough jobs that require those degrees, everyone will need to have the same understanding of math and computer because everything will be embedded with software and computers. The three basics will become the four basics: reading, writing, arithmetic and coding.  We might not major in those STEM fields but we will need some education and understanding of those fields.

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