Don't Get STEAMrolled: 3 Ideas for STEM & STEAM Talent Attraction

STEM, STEAM or STREAM — whichever acronym you elect to use —Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (and even Art and Reading) programs aim to thrust these subjects into the limelight and get young people involved with a host of topics, themes, and threads that feature in these subjects.

And there is a business case for STEM education. Job roles related to STEM are expected to grow 70% faster than other occupations. Indeed, Silicon Valley has always searched for talent among the young, but they have amped up their efforts as of late, bolstering the talent pipeline by investing serious dollars into science and maths education — particularly with female and minority talent. The investment is part of a broader scheme to boost diversity among its workforce funding education and recruiting as well as investments in female and minority-owned start-ups.

Most recently, the British government has pledged to sponsor new PhDs as part of £370 million investment to transform healthcare, increase the support available for mental health and build more sustainable transport networks. This comes as part of a greater demand to develop the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies that will transform the society at every level.

A statistic from the Women In Science And Engineering (WISE) campaign clearly demonstrates that the STEM sector is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. Since 2017, core STEM employment has increased by 6.3%, which equates to more than 6 times that of the total rise in the UK’s overall employment rate. And this critical shortage of science, technology, engineering & maths talent costs employers £1.5bn per year in additional recruitment costs.

Companies appreciate the heightened competition for talent faced by the tech industry, leading them to search for more efficient ways to expand their potential workforce. And it’s not just the tech industry.

But what about the less obvious industries looking for STEM talent? Most companies have lesser-known of the business functions that depend on the technical expertise of a STEM graduate. Maybe IT , digital operations and finance spring to mind? An the industries searching for their perfect fit include retail, travel, entertainment, fashion or even heritage and conservation…Tesco, for example, has graduate schemes for software engineering, finance and online services and offers apprenticeships in finance and in food science and technology

With more than 4,500 schools and 130 universities spread across the UK alone, the ability for employers to dedicate resources and offer STEM careers education to support programs at all of these institutions is impossible. It then comes as no surprise that STEM employers are grappling with brand awareness, diversity, and hard-to-fill roles.

Among the companies clamoring for STEM candidates’ attention, how can you differentiate yourself from the competition — especially when small and medium-sized companies are competing with the likes of Google and Microsoft to attract and retain the same talent?

With the pressure of competition, let us help you blow off some STEAM. We’re coming at you with three simple ways to win both the hearts and minds of STEM and STEAM talent!

1. Tell a Story

Highlight your company’s purpose beyond the bottom line in order to differentiate your company from your competitors. Baby Boomers and Generation Z alike are attracted to companies that offer a compelling purpose beyond profit.

This is where your employer brand comes in.

Companies need to focus on their purpose. After all, purpose-driven organisations have greater financial returns — which in turn attracts top talent.

How do you do that? By telling a story.

Storytelling generates the audience engagement you need, particularly as nearly 80% of Millennials say they would choose a job based on company culture. And the benefit of storytelling goes further than the recruiting stage — it is a particularly effective way to broadcast the human aspect of your organisation, which is essential for retention and productivity. To illustrate the point, chew on this — 77% of employees say they would work longer hours for an empathetic employer. And the stories that reflect this need to come from employees — as they have the most authentic experiences of life at the company.

Staying on message has never been more difficult in a world where the career site is no longer a silo — job applicants are increasingly using social media as part of their job search. With the number of platforms to reach candidates rapidly expanding, there’s an opportunity to build your story across all of these (marketing!) platforms. Build out your story — the combination of Instagram stories, Twitter feed, Facebook profile, copy materials and LinkedIn recruitment will ensure your audience ‘get’ the employer brand. From a “day in the life” series on your website’s careers page to an employee-hosted podcast or live video stream of “what’s happening now” in the office, storytelling gives you the flexibility to increase brand awareness in a new way.

Storytelling is king in the war for talent especially as employee stories to build an authentic Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Make sure you take a look at our insight piece to get the lowdown 

2. Build a Network

In a survey of 1,500 students conducted by IHR in their State of Careers Education Report, approximately 50% of students expressed that its either very difficult or impossible to find work experience. A closer look determined that 45% believed that it was a lack of support from the school that prevented them from gaining the relevant work experience, while 30% of students believed that a lack of connections was a contributor..

Big firms are no strangers to campus recruitment fairs. But if that’s your only touchpoint, you’re in trouble. You need to be engaging students outside of the seasonal internship recruiting rush. The digital world is transforming the way in which employers and students interact. Careers broadcasts, live chat events and email sequences should form part of your continued commitment to encourage, not only your HR team, but your STEM employees, to engage with talented STEM students who are gearing up to take their next steps.

3. Align Yourself With Their Values

Top STEM talent is as driven as any other group by the prospect of participating in companies and campaigns that offer a meaningful mission, purpose, and value. Pay matters, of course, but as is the case with smaller startups, you must embody your mission and values (with transparent communication about your finances, market, and business considerations). After all, according to the State Of Employee Engagement, 38% of employees believe their company’s core values don’t align with their personal values. That’s significant, and with it, comes repercussions.

Consider the energy industry — their values seem to be at odds with the recent outcry against climate change. Indeed, the environment ranks as one of the biggest concerns of young people, with an EY poll revealing that only 18% of Millenial and 6% of Gen Z-ers found a career in the oil and gas sector to be very appealing.

As jobs requiring STEM degrees skyrocket, more industries face stiff competition for STEM candidates. If the energy industry hopes to improve its talent shortage problem, it must take steps now to demonstrate their promotion of an inclusive environment — showcasing efforts through scaled employer advocacy.

But what does that look like?

General Electric (GE) launched a stellar Oscar-worthy employer brand video. Yes, it featured during the Oscars television coverage twice — during the Red Carpet pre-show and the live broadcast of the 88th Academy Awards ceremoy. In it, female engineers and scientists were treated like movie stars, and formed part of their #BalanceTheEquation campaign which pledged to achieve 50:50 gender representation in entry-level technical roles by 2020. Better still, the Academy Award feature fit into GE’s strategy of using live events with its media buy, and was bolstered by the fact that the target audience (young women) was already tuned in to watch the show.

And that, ladies and gentleman is a true Oscar-worthy performance of aligning values. Literally.

STEAM ahead of the competition by implementing these three solutions to your recruitment woes. Don’t let negative perceptions of the Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths disciplines be the reason that the brightest of talent are turning their attention elsewhere.