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Hot job market for STEM graduates

Feb. 25 2022

The current job market for recent graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects is the hottest it’s been in a long time. In fact, five months after finishing their studies, 93 percent of graduates have found employment – one of the highest numbers since 2013.

The job market for recent STEM graduates with a Master’s degree has grown stronger over the past year. This was shown by Tekna’s 2021 job market survey, which looks at Tekna members’ job status five months after they’ve graduated.

The good news is that 93 percent of everyone who graduated in June 2021 was working five months later. This is three percentage points higher than in 2020, when 90 percent reported having a job at this time; these are the best numbers since 2013.

The percentage of graduates who were unemployed five months after finishing their studies was 5.5 percent, while 1.5 percent chose to continue their studies. In comparison, over 16 percent of graduates reported being unemployed in 2016, when the crisis in the oil sector hit the job market hard.

– The survey shows there’s a great demand for high-tech and scientific competency, and that this demand is growing. New technology and new innovative ways of meeting society’s challenges have really had an impact this past year, says Tekna president Lars Olav Grøvik. He believes the numbers show that anyone who chooses to pursue a graduate degree in a STEM subject has made a wise choice.

Have gotten a job offer before graduating

The survey reveals that the vast majority of graduates got a job before graduating. As many as 77 percent of respondents reported having gotten a job while they were still studying. One of the Tekna students who’s landed a job before graduating is Sigrid Haver Solli (25), who’s studying industrial economy at NMBU and graduating in June. She signed a contract with a construction contractor before Christmas.

– We’ve noticed that the job market is hot. I myself got two job offers from places where I’d worked during summer vacation. And my entire class of 25 students had gotten a job six months before graduating, she says.

Solli thinks that when recruiting starts so early, it’s a sign that there’s stiff competition among organizations to hire the best candidates.

- It’s great that they want to hire us, but at the same time, we should make sure that we don’t sign any contracts that haven’t been quality assured. I took advantage of Tekna’s offer to have their attorneys look through my contract, and I also used Tekna’s starting salary recommendations during my salary negotiations, she explains.

Private sector most desirable

According to the survey, the private sector attracts the majority of recent graduates. As many as 80 percent of respondents had gotten a job in private companies, while 15 percent had gotten a job in state government and 5 percent in municipal government.

– It’s not surprising that the private sector attracts the highest number of graduates. There are a lot of people who want to work in this sector, especially when times are good. At the same time, it’s important to point out that jobs in the municipal and state sectors can be an incredible start for somebody’s future career. The graduates who start working in these sectors often get exciting and responsible jobs, becoming project managers for large projects that have equally large budgets, says Grøvik.

Math and science top the list

Mathematics and science are the subjects that have the highest number of graduates who’ve found jobs. All the respondents in these branches indicated that they were working five months after graduating. Construction and IT also scored high, with 97 percent employed. At the bottom were biology and chemistry, with a percentage of 87 and 83 percent, respectively, who were working five months after graduation. Geology, geophysics and geography, studies associated with the oil industry, were also relatively low, having 89 percent employed.

– The numbers are generally good for all industries. We’re expecting an even greater demand for IT graduates in the years to come. Digitalization is taking off, and we have a continual need for competency in IT and cybersecurity, says Grøvik.

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