STEM skills are needed, but don’t neglect the value of arts degrees to technology companies

Amid concerns of skills shortages in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the UK government is doubling down its focus on STEM curriculum in schools and higher education, going as far as excluding arts and creative subjects from the English Baccalaureate. CityAM reports

The arts teach us to challenge, persuade, and argue. They give us our language through which we convey our emotions and thoughts. While STEM skills are necessary, the arts reinforce human-centred thinking that empowers businesses to sympathise with their customers in order to drive growth.

Envisioning the product and its use requires real world experience, understanding the client, and being able to think creatively – but the stereotypical technologist often struggles to understand customer issues.

It is a common belief that STEM degrees provide greater opportunities than arts degrees, yet if you examine companies where many people think a STEM background would be critical, you’ll find this isn’t necessarily the case. At Google and Facebook, 65 per cent of open job opportunities are non-technical. Alongside every technician, engineer, and scientist, there are marketers, designers, lawyers, salespeople, and HR managers. Each is an important part of the company’s ecosystem, each contributing to the business in different ways.

This isn’t to say that people shouldn’t pursue STEM. There is a STEM skill shortage, which – coupled with the lack of diversity in the STEM sphere – means we should continue to grow a more diverse and skilled workforce. But we need to dispel the notion that a STEM degree is better than an arts degree. In fact, we really should encourage young people to pursue whatever path they are passionate about.

If there’s one thing that our future workforce needs, it’s diversity. That diversity shouldn’t end with gender, sexuality, or race. We need a diversity of backgrounds and skills, with introverts, extroverts, leaders, and followers.

Read more STEM skills are needed, but don’t neglect the value of arts degrees to technology companies

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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