How Graduates from a STEM Background Empower Business Innovation

4 Minutes

Discover the Top 5 Ways to Attract STEM Graduates. Enhance your tech strategies with data analytics and innovation experts.

The increasing digitisation of the workplace means that organisations need to enhance their technology strategies. Incorporating candidates with skills from a STEM background into your organisation is crucial to make certain you can take advantage of the latest in data analytics and digital innovation. These candidates can go on to empower your digital support technician roles, as well as other business-critical and tech-forward positions.

Ensuring that your business has the capabilities, resources and personnel in place to keep pace with advancements in the digital world will mean being far more prepared for success in the future.

So, how can you attract these invaluable STEM graduates to your company? In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s so vital that employers consider their hiring strategies for graduates from a STEM background, before discussing the top five ways that we’ve identified that organisations can utilise to make themselves desirable to STEM candidates leaving university this summer.

If you’re still interested in learning more about how to nurture, attract, and retain graduates after reading this article, our guide on Realising the Potential of Emerging Talent offers valuable insights into how organisations are facing hiring challenges across various industries.

Why You Should be Looking for Candidates from a STEM Background

With over 800,000 graduates entering the UK workforce each year—26% of whom are from a STEM background—organisations that aren’t considering candidates with these complex skillsets will be losing out on the potential benefits to productivity and efficiency—alongside shrinking their available talent pool. 

The emergence of “Industry 4.0”—the collective term for the digital innovation impacting all sectors as a result of advancements in the Internet of Things, automation and cloud computing—and the growth of roles such as that of the digital support technician has meant that companies are facing an increasing need to prime their customer service offerings and ensure tech-forward experiences. 

It’s vital that organisations looking to scale up their operations securely and effectively find ways to balance technical competency with interpersonal skills to ensure that they can exceed expectations in all interactions with stakeholders.

There are many ways to get this tech-forward approach right, but STEM graduates are increasingly seen as some of the strongest candidates in this regard. Combining the expertise they’ve gained from their extensive education with the people skills that can be trained on the job allows them to be an ideal hire for companies looking to fill a gap in their business-critical roles, from customer experience to coding jobs.

With universities responding to this fourth industrial revolution by adapting their curricula and building industry partnerships with market-leading businesses, many candidates are now leaving academia prepared for professional work with emerging technologies, giving them the real-world experience they need to succeed in their chosen fields. 

The Top 5 Ways to Build a STEM Workforce

Whilst there are many ways for organisations to build a workforce by drawing on graduates with a STEM background, our experience has shown us that there are five crucial considerations for business leaders to make to ensure they can attract and retain talented and ambitious candidates.

1. Make sure you’re speaking their language

Organisations need to be sure they’re advertising in the right place—and speaking the right language—to attract candidates from a STEM background. Failing to connect with these professionals via the digital platforms and communities they’re engaging with can mean you struggle to discover candidates with the appropriate knowledge for your company. 

Before sending an advertisement out, make sure to do your research. Find the websites where these particular graduates are looking for work and post your vacancy there—helping you parse through CVs that don’t fit the bill. 

It’s also vital to check the language and content of your job descriptions: 

  • Emphasise the impact of the work being done. Graduates from a STEM background are drawn to work with organisations that positively impact society. 

  • Offer competitive salaries and benefits. STEM graduates are in high demand, possessing highly valuable skills which can be utilised within any industry. Ensure you’ve researched and offered a better-than-market-rate salary and benefits to appeal to this demographic. 

  • Engage with STEM communities. If you’re advertising for a specific technical or software skill, make sure you’re keeping up to date with popular community groups on social media and consulting with existing staff, which can help ensure that you’re familiar with the terminology used within these communities.

2. Adopt a forward-thinking culture

STEM graduates are more discerning than they’ve ever been. It’s no longer all about the pay—candidates from a STEM background will want to get a feel for who you are as an organisation and what you stand for. The more forward-thinking your internal culture is, the better the chance is of being able to attract and retain the best STEM graduates. 

It’s important to foster a positive company culture, which can go a long way to encouraging candidates to apply. Building a reputation as a company which cares about building an inclusive and supportive workplace is crucial—particularly given that 35% of graduates from a core STEM background identify as female, based on the latest data from STEM Women, a community and advocacy group focused on increasing equality within the industry. 

Creating an internal culture which celebrates difference is not only a boon for workforce morale, but is also crucial for profitability, with research conducted by McKinsey & Company indicating that businesses with higher gender diversity are 25% more profitable than their less-equitable competitors. 

Highlighting your ethical and social responsibility within your job advertisement can effectively make candidates aware of the details of your company culture. Add information about how seriously you take your principles, the opportunities you offer to your employees, and data on not only workforce inclusivity, but the equality of outcomes within your organisation.

3. Learning and development and career mobility are key

The best candidates from a STEM background are both passionate and ambitious—and they’ve probably already mapped out where they see themselves in the future. Your company needs to match their career goals, ensuring that they see your business as a place they want to invest their time and energy. 

Indicate progression opportunities whenever you talk to these candidates, and provide digital transformation courses to ensure that they have the skills necessary to succeed in the modern workplace. You can go as far as to map out how they might progress throughout their career with your organisation. Whatever you choose, you should make it clear that you’re offering them the chance to progress and earn more demanding responsibilities. 

Similarly, you should ensure that your learning and development programme is contextually relevant and robust. Tell interviewees about the training on offer and highlight any teamleader apprenticeship opportunities you fund, and help them understand that you’re just as invested in their career mobility as they are. 

4. Flexible working is the future

In modern business, the working day is no longer restricted by the nine-to-five. Businesses across the world give their employees the opportunity to take up a flexible working day or week. Consider your competitors, and ask whether how you expect them to work comes across as progressive and prioritises their well-being. 

Offering a flexible or hybrid working system and good work-life balance can help your company become a desirable place for the most talented candidates from a STEM background. With 75% of Gen Zs and 76% of Millennials preferring hybrid or remote models of work that provide benefits and support their modern lifestyles, employers could risk losing out on top-tier talent if they remain bound to the idea of bringing their employees on-site five days a week.

Begin future-proofing your organisation by incorporating remote work, flexi-time, or time off in lieu into your hiring plans. Giving the busy professionals in your workforce the ability to balance work and personal responsibilities can help you not only attract top talent, but retain it too.

5. Relationships with universities empower your talent pipeline

Building relationships with universities can help business leaders to attract the best STEM graduates. Whilst there are many ways to facilitate these partnerships, some—such as sponsoring research projects, offering internships, or co-working programmes—can be expensive for SMEs. 

Alternatives do exist, however, which can provide smaller organisations with an opportunity to build their reputation amongst students whilst keeping the financial overheads low: 

  • Host on-campus events such as hackathons, seminars or professional networking meetups, which can help to put your brand in front of students and encourage brand awareness before they graduate.

  • Participate in careers fairs, host information sessions, or establish mentoring programmes, allowing your senior staff to introduce STEM students to your organisation and how you work.

  • Get in touch with societies at your local university or college and provide speakers to host a guest lecture on the career options available for students with a STEM background, highlighting business-specific information such as the qualities of a team leader.

Recruitment agencies for graduates can provide consultancy services which will help you to build these valuable partnerships with academic institutions, offering information on what your organisation will need to do to attract current and soon-to-graduate students, how to ensure that your mentoring programmes and internships are relevant to developing candidates’ skills, and how to build a campus-to-business talent pipeline. 

Realise the Potential of a Graduate Hire with Pareto

At Pareto, we’re experts in coaching graduate talent to succeed in the world of work. We assess, place, and train candidates for a variety of roles, from sales and marketing to project management. Our consultants are experts in helping businesses to attract and retain early-career professionals and understand how they can leverage their creativity and innovation. We have a global footprint, providing digital transformation courses in the UK, Europe, and US, ensuring that no matter where you’re looking to scale up your operations, you can access our expertise. To learn more and discover how a Pareto graduate can make a difference for your organisation, contact us today.

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