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STEM Recruitment Trends to Watch in 2023

The competition for STEM talent is heightening this year.

Towards the end of 2022, the number of people out of work (unemployment rate) plummeted to the lowest level seen since the 1970s. While there are slightly more candidates on the market today, the unemployment rate remains low.

This trend is indicative of two things – talent pools are limited, and professionals are harder to attract, as they’re not moving between jobs in the same way as many did through the ‘Great Resignation’.

In this article, I’ll delve behind the 4 key trends impacting STEM recruitment today, while providing actionable guidance to help you gain access to the talent you need to power your organisation’s success.

4 key recruitment trends impacting STEM businesses today 


1. The advent of AI in STEM

The importance of being technologically equipped in STEM continues to rise as AI models gain momentum both inside, and outside of the scientific industries.

From operations to drug discovery, AI’s role in STEM is set to grow as more businesses make use of its vital ability to navigate uncertainty with rapid and agile data driven solutions.

The increased use of AI in STEM isn’t something that most professionals are equipped for. According to the World Economic Forum, 60% of workers will require additional training before 2027 to keep up with the pace of digitalisation and AI. Early exposure to forward-thinking technology can make an organisation stand out from the crowd to candidates and help feed into a powerful talent strategy.

2. The candidate led market

In times of low unemployment, multiple companies often target the same specialist professionals, resulting in job candidates benefitting from a choice of prospective employers. 

This generates a candidate led market, where the efficacy of the employee value proposition rises in value and can help ensure that the right talent is attracted, hired and retained.

3. The impact of the economy

The UK’s Office for National Statistics’ reports show that vacancies have been falling for nine consecutive financial periods across the UK.

UK organisations cite economic pressures as a key factor in holding back on recruitment.

PwC’s CEO Survey adds a further lens to this trend – 73% of global CEOs believe global economic growth will decline over 2023, and 40% of all CEOs say that inflation is the top global threat for businesses today.

However, while large-scale expansion in some industries is slowing down, specialist professionals across STEM remain essential to business continuity. 

Results from the Net Employment Outlook were positive at +19% for Q1 in 2023, signalling that UK employers will continue hiring over the course of the year albeit, at a deficit of 5 percentage points compared to Q4 2022.

Given this, creating powerful talent attraction strategies will remain pivotal to many businesses - recruitment may have slowed, but the criticality of the right hire has risen.

The impact of economic uncertainty is also affecting candidates, who are less likely to prioritise moving roles in times of economic uncertainty – particularly if a new position advertises an un-competitive salary rate.

4. Changes to working models

While 58% of job seekers prioritise fully remote roles, and almost a third of general employers are creating more fully remote positions, getting to hybrid remains a challenge in STEM.

Many STEM roles are laboratory or research focused. Consequently, being on-site can be an essential part of the job and not all workplaces can facilitate hybrid work. 

This however, comes at a price - 64% of lab leaders are currently struggling to attract skilled candidates to their organisation, and 35% of UK STEM workers plan to leave their role over the coming year. 

Meanwhile, our research shows that most global STEM workers find workplace satisfaction from a strong sense of work-life balance, and 14% of STEM professionals today are seeking an alternative role to find a more hybrid/remote workplace environment. 

How to evolve your talent strategy in 2023

1. Use a data driven approach to recruitment

In today’s talent market, quality matters over quantity. 

Getting access to a high-calibre candidate however will rely on your ability to look beyond technical ability through to compatibility to ensure that the person you’re hiring is on track to drive real results in your business.

2. Create a clear and persuasive employee value proposition

The way your employee value proposition feeds into your overall talent strategy should reflect the candidate uncertainty that we’re seeing today.

While being clear and engaging is still important, being persuasive and providing reassurance around job security is also vital to gain access to the passive candidate market.

3. Showcase your investments in tech

Integrate your technological advancements into your employee value proposition, and lay out clear pathways for new starters whose roles may cross over with innovative technologies like AI to engage with the tech, and advance their skills base. 

While this is less relevant for executive positions directly, executives and senior hires who see that organisations are not only purchasing technology, but investing in their people to advance their organisation, are more likely to be persuaded to come onboard.

Get started with Search by SRG

Search by SRG provide data-driven recruitment solutions for executive, technical and specialist hires across the wider STEM industries.

We harness data-driven insights to ensure that the right hire is not only made, but retained.

Click here to get in touch

About the author: Initially joining SRG through the strategic sales team, Jacob’s passion for technical search and his experience managing global recruitment means he now heads up Search by SRG, and is Director of both Search by SRG and Client Solutions. Jacob is passionate about partnering with clients to ensure that there is unity. Jacob is still very much hands-on. He recognises the importance of ensuring that the right people are in the right jobs to increase productivity, diversity of thought, and ultimately the success of our clients. Click here to connect with Jacob on LinkedIn.

Outside of executive search and client solutions, Jacob can also be heard discussing all things work-related on our Think Bigger Series podcast. 

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