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            The XYZ of What Top Talent is Actually Seeking…

            25th October 2023

            The increasing demand for sought-after STEM specialists means that it’s important for employers to understand what top talent is looking for and how to apply this in job offerings. A recent survey of 5000 STEM candidates across 5 countries has established what’s important to STEM professionals in the post pandemic era and beyond.

            As far as life goals, STEM professionals value financial stability (59%), work-life balance (58%), being fulfilled/happy (43%) and having lots of different experiences or opportunities (38%). A good family life is viewed highly (37%), followed by having a successful career (29%) and having a positive impact on the world (28%).

            When it comes to job hunting, salary topped the priorities (61%), followed by flexible working (55%), work-life balance (53%) and career development opportunities (42%). Job security (22%) and industry buoyancy (23%) are important factors when job hunting, followed by the potential to contribute to society (20%). These figures demonstrate that flexible working options are now expected to be a standard given of employment and that STEM employers can attract top candidates by having a positive impact on society and the environment.

            36% of respondents would now consider a move to a different industry than the one they currently work in when searching for a new STEM role. Asked what their main area of study was before they began their STEM career, 27% of respondents said technology. Opportunities in tech are attractive to candidates across the economy. By extending the search to other sectors, employers can increase their options considerably  and their chances of finding the best person for the job.

            Generational Divide

            Research looking into the tech workers motivations has found a generational divide between priorities. Whilst the majority of millennial workers are still motivated by their companies’ missions, a majority of Gen X workers were less so. Specifically, when asked if their company’s mission and values are more motivating than they were pre-pandemic, 56% of millennials said yes as did 47% of Gen Z. But just 38% of Gen X workers agreed with the statement.

            When all groups were asked if they agreed with the statement I aspire to work for a high-profile, large technology company, 60% of millennials and 60% of Gen Z agreed, while just 37% of Gen X did.

            When asked if they agreed with the statement Work has become even more important to me and achieving my life goals, 49% of millennials and 42% of Gen Z agreed, while only 32% of Gen X respondents agreed.

            Emerging Talent

            An IBM study interviewed students, career changers, and job seekers who are interested in a STEM role. 61% of respondents think they are not qualified to work in a STEM job because they don’t have the right academic degrees. 60% said the related training is too expensive, 40% of students stated that they don’t know where to start their development, and 60% didn’t know enough about digital credentials. Being able to continue to work while earning a credential is particularly important to career changers.

            The respondents were optimistic that roles in STEM fields across sectors will increase in the future (66%), and 75% agree that digital credentials are a good way to supplement traditional education and increase career opportunities.

            86% of the respondents who have earned a digital credential agree that it helped them achieve career goals. Increased career opportunities and qualifications were the top reasons why respondents across the globe said they wanted to earn digital credentials.

            Though generations have reacted differently to the unprecedented changes due to the pandemic, many professionals are aligning their career goals with their personal priorities in life. Flexible working options have become an expectation since the pandemic. By 2025 an aptitude for flexible working will become a top 10 job skill looked for by tomorrow’s employers, alongside active learning resilience, and stress tolerance.

            MD Comment

            Having recruited STEM talent for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen jobseekers’ priorities flip between job security and salary in-line with the economies ups and downs. However, COVID changed expectations dramatically with work-life balance and flexibility battling with salary and career development for top spots. Generational differences in expectations have always existed and will continue. All involved with hiring STEM skills will know just how short we are globally of suitable candidates, the gap between demand and supply is huge. Closing the gap is vital yet 61% of non-STEM undergraduates do not feel qualified and 60% see training as too expensive and 40% don’t know where to start – this is the biggest opportunity of our generation to close the STEM skills gap. Employers, education and government need to re-think how we can provide and signpost effective, attractive, low cost gateways for highly intelligent emerging talent to shift into the STEM sector.

            Posted by Mike Gorshkov

            Managing Director at Linea Resourcing

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