How to attract and retain employees in STEM industries

Business Insights

The STEM industries (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) already play a key part in the UK economy, and are predicted to grow even further over the next ten years. Due to the push from the public education system, as well as the wider industry, to have more females in STEM roles, there has been a substantial increase in gender diversity*.

With this fantastic change in the landscape of the typical employee, as well as the overall increase in competition for roles, for employers, attracting, retaining and developing enough young talent can be tough.

* - the information used in this article has come from the recent original research our team conducted, surveying 1,000 young people in September 2021 aged 30 and under, discussing their thoughts on the STEM industry.

Role satisfaction

A consistent theme for reasons wanting to enter the industry has turned more and more towards the desire to be at the forefront of technological advances, and to be part of something that will have a positive impact on people’s lives through a high-tech role. This is more important to the younger generation that is just entering the workforce, with many wanting to work in STEM roles that link to pressing societal issues including; climate change, medical research, or digital development.

47% of those surveyed (who were all aged 30 and under) agreed that they would consider working in a STEM-related field in the future, with one in four already working in the industry. These numbers are promising for the industry, but show that more has to be done to retain workers. A key part of this for Gen Z employees will be the aforementioned motivation of wanting to have a positive impact on the world, but how can this be implemented in a relatively short time frame?

Introducing initiatives such as pro-bono work for charities working to implement engineering solutions for countries in need can be expensive, but it is a clear example of how engineering and technology firms can directly impact society as a whole.

Following this, donating money to initiatives and charities can both motivate employees, as well as improving brand awareness and positivity. Not to mention the corporate social responsibility each firm has in 2021 and beyond.

Career progression

Due to the push in recent years to encourage more women to work in the STEM industries, many more females are now entering the workforce, as well as progressing in careers. A key part of the push was not just to encourage females into entry-level work, but to actively express that lifelong careers are extremely fulfilling, and can be attained by both genders. Perhaps because of this encouragement of women specifically to undertake careers in STEM roles, the young females surveyed were far more likely to consider a role in the industry than men (26% vs 17%), if they weren’t already in a STEM role. As an industry, this is clear evidence that presenting the world of STEM as a positive one in terms of career development can have a direct impact on recruitment efforts.

Starting to engage with all employees right from the off, is key in building the initial trust that employees need to stay with a company. The age bracket of 18-20 polled the lowest when it came to considering roles within the industry, with only 15% of those not in STEM roles considering it.

Tackling this specific issue should be a priority, as a lack of interest from the youngest generations will mean potential staff shortages in the future. By having clear career progression, alongside role satisfaction, your business can be ahead of the curve and retain the best young talent entering the industry.

The future of STEM Industries

It’s not all doom and gloom for the industry. This survey of millennial and Gen Z workers has been very effective in showing that there is an interest in STEM roles within the UK. The key here for the big firms, startups and even universities and recruiters in the industry is to pave the wave for progression and ensure job satisfaction is high, so the industry doesn't face an employment shortage in the coming years.

By using these survey results to make predictions for the future of STEM, businesses in particular can ascertain what changes need to be made to avoid an industry employee crisis.

For more information on Get It Made’s STEM Careers study, please visit: