The Role of a STEM Education in Manufacturing

The Role of a STEM Education in Manufacturing

It’s long been known that a STEM education is valuable in the four fields that comprise the acronym — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But with technology playing an increasingly prominent role in nearly every industry, today’s STEM graduates are in demand everywhere. These developments have particularly impacted manufacturing, as robotics, AI, machine learning, and other technologies changed production processes.

The need for qualified STEM talent in manufacturing has never been greater. Here’s a look at the role STEM has in manufacturing today and how to hire industry-ready talent for your organization.

A STEM Education Lays the Foundation for Innovation

So, how important is STEM in the world of manufacturing today? Many people would make the case that STEM lays the foundation for innovation in the industry today, thanks to intensive coursework and practical experiences. STEM students gain the theoretical foundation and practical skills to succeed in a highly competitive market.

Just look at some of the ways a STEM education prepares workers for innovation in the manufacturing sector. Robotics, computer-aided design, or working with new materials. STEM prioritizes a creative approach to problem-solving and critical thinking, qualities that are critical for a competitive advantage in today’s manufacturing marketplace.

With a mindset of experimentation and iteration, STEM prepares employees to adapt to technological changes and challenges the industry to redefine what is possible.

How STEM Can Help Bridge the Skills Gap

The skills gap between what employers need and what employees have — is among the major issues plaguing the manufacturing sector in the Industry 4.0 era. However, candidates with a STEM-like problem-solving approach have the talents to bridge the gap. Perhaps the most important way STEM impacts hiring in the manufacturing sector is by providing skilled candidates who can hit the ground running after recruitment.

That’s because STEM programs provide students with the practical skills and knowledge the manufacturing sector needs. Whether learning coding languages for automated systems or understanding advanced manufacturing techniques or precision machining, STEM equips a new generation with the skills needed to stay competitive in manufacturing today.

STEM Helps Create Industry-Ready Graduates

One of STEM education’s advantages is experiential learning and application. Internships, cooperatives, and industry partnerships expose students to manufacturing environments and allow students to transition from class to the workplace seamlessly.

This practical experience sharpens technical skills and develops soft skills like teamwork, communication, and adaptability. If your manufacturing organization participates in internship and industry partnership programs, you help prepare STEM graduates to join the workforce with the experience needed to be valuable assets from the start.

The Impact of STEM on the Manufacturing Hiring Practices

Hiring managers and HR pros have seen firsthand how STEM has impacted the labor market. Candidates with STEM skills are in high demand for the efficiency and quality they can bring to manufacturing. It’s expected they will help develop cutting-edge new products and improve processes.

In addition to traditional manufacturing positions, STEM talent is needed in supply chain management, quality assurance, and sustainability. With manufacturing increasingly intertwined with other industries, interdisciplinary skills are increasingly required, reinforcing the role of STEM education in preparing a mobile workforce.

The most significant impact of STEM might be how manufacturing organizations find and recruit candidates. While internships and community partnerships help develop emerging talent before they enter the workforce, they can’t fully satisfy the demand for STEM skills. Now, manufacturers are recruiting from all universities and community colleges instead of looking to the elite schools for top STEM talent.

Manufacturers must also adapt to the preferences of younger generations to help attract more STEM talent. Millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, and their desire to work at socially conscious companies is well-known.

More members of Generation Z will enter the workforce every year over the next decade. Gen Z values flexibility and work-life balance to the extent that more than 50% want hybrid schedules from their employer. The nature of manufacturing work has traditionally made flexibility a challenge. The US Chamber of Commerce points to this as a reason for labor shortages, as younger workers seek different opportunities. Manufacturing organizations must find a way to prioritize flexibility to attract the newest STEM talent.

STEM Will Impact Manufacturing Recruitment for Years to Come

Looking into the future, it seems STEM will only become more critical to the manufacturing sector and its hiring practices. STEM education prepares candidates for today’s technological world like few other educational tracks can. It’s safe to say that, for the foreseeable future, a STEM education will remain the backbone for manufacturing industry advancements. Follow MRINetwork for more insights on the present and future of hiring across all industries.