Brookings Mountain West presents “The Hidden STEM Economy: The Surprising Diversity of Jobs Requiring Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Knowledge,” a talk by Jonathan Rothwell, senior research associate and associate fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program.
Policy and businesses leaders have argued that there is a shortage of highly educated workers in professional occupations related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Critics have countered that Ph.D scientists often face a difficult academic labor market and do not necessarily earn higher wages than other professionals. Yet, both sides of the STEM debate have been relying on an ill-defined definition of STEM work. Using a detailed survey of worker knowledge requirements, this research project redefines STEM jobs based on the level of knowledge required in STEM fields to perform occupations. The results uncover two facts previously unrecognized in the STEM literature: A surprisingly high number of jobs require high-level STEM knowledge in at least one field, and roughly half of these jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree. The presentation will highlight these and other results from this work and discuss the policy implications for STEM education and workforce development nationally and at the regional level.