A lack of qualified candidates coupled with an increasing number of job openings has created a perfect storm for hiring managers in the STEM field. Some sectors are in greater need of talent than others, like manufacturing and engineering, for example, but one thing that we know for certain is that the STEM field as a whole is hungry for skilled workers. Proposed solutions to the current skills gap include upskilling and reskilling current employees and creating initiatives in schools to attract a younger generation to pursue careers in STEM.1
Upskilling and reskilling will help alleviate the immediate talent shortage by helping current STEM professionals adapt and evolve to the changing needs of the field. Outreach programs focused on K-12 schools might increase the number of STEM professionals in the future, but there are no guarantees of success with these programs.
Hiring managers need a middle ground between these solutions, something that will help fill open positions in STEM right now. The answer lies in reevaluating the required skills for certain jobs. Perhaps reducing the level of experience required to enter the STEM field will prove to be a positive step in the right direction. Or, to put it another way, is it time to move away from job-ready hiring?
3 to 5 Years Experience Required?
Research conducted by Gartner found that the number of skills required for a single job is increasing 10 percent every year and that 33 percent of the skills required for a job three years ago are irrelevant today.2 Deloitte and McKinsey indicated that executives are already recognizing the need to retrain their workforce over the next several years to help them adapt to changing skill requirements.3
With skill requirements changing so rapidly, it’s time for hiring managers to focus less on current skills and more on a candidate’s ability to adapt to different types of work, reskill to suit the needs of the team, and take on new roles and responsibilities as they advance in their career. In other words, it’s less important to find candidates with the cliché “3 to 5 years’ experience” listed as a requirement on job postings, and more important to source candidates who are coachable, adaptable, and possess soft skills that are in demand in STEM.
Soft skills like analysis, creativity, organization, and communication are just a few in-demand skills in STEM because they signal a candidate’s ability to learn and upskill as job requirements change over time.4 With so much focus on reskilling and upskilling workers in the future, lowering the experience and education requirements for some STEM jobs will help organizations fill entry-level roles with eager candidates who will provide more value as they’re given time to develop.
Hire for Talent, Train for Skill
In general, hiring managers need to find the best job-ready talent available. However, with constantly changing skill requirements, hiring managers should also hire talent based on their future potential instead of past experience or education.
Job-ready skills cannot be ignored in all cases. For example, not everyone can be a surgeon because surgeons have highly specialized skills that require years of study and training. However, positions with constantly evolving skills leave the door open to hiring candidates based on their future potential or future fit. According to Indeed.com, a few examples of in-demand STEM positions that fit this mold include:
- Technical writers
- Computer programmers
- Web developers
- Systems analysts
- Database Administrators
Candidates that do not meet an organization’s education or experience requirements can still provide value if their talents and soft skills position them for future success. In response to the STEM talent shortage, organizations have already created initiatives for increasing employee engagement to help retain workers, and increased their emphasis on upskilling and reskilling employees to adapt to the changing skills landscape. Now it’s time to consider casting a wider net for talent by reevaluating the skills and experience candidates need to be successful in the positions that change dynamically over time.
Want to learn more about how you can fine-tune your hiring strategy? AllSTEM has the experience and resources to help strengthen your workforce today. Learn more at www.allstemconnections.com.