Europeans respect and value skilled tradespeople, finds 3M’s 2022 State of Science Index (SOSI). However, 70% of people across the continent are not attracted to pursue a trade career themselves, with 20% of Europeans saying that they were dissuaded from pursuing a skilled trade because they do not see career growth.
An outmoded perception of trades
While 92% of Europeans believe that the workforce needs more skilled workers, such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters, there is a lack of understanding when it comes to the opportunities on offer for those that take up a skilled trade. Addressing this understanding is critical with the ongoing skills shortage hampering employers across EMEA.
It is not as clear cut as there just being less economic incentive – 64% of Europeans believe they would earn the same in a trade as in a career requiring a university degree, although this is significantly behind the 71% global average. Europeans’ reticence to take up a trade seems to correlate to a widespread misunderstanding of the progression of a trade career, and how the digital skills required in other industries come into play.
The STEM/digital divide
With 51% of Europeans concerned that they lack the digital skills to keep a job in the current market, it is clear that technology is a core component of the skilled trade sector. Tradespeople are required to embrace digital solutions for monitoring, implementing and performing remote maintenance on a daily basis. Indeed, 62% agree that skilled trade jobs rely on a STEM education.
“The skilled trade economy, like all industries is being transformed by the latest technological innovations and there is an opportunity for the digitally savvy trade worker to thrive,” says Sarah Chapman, Technical Leader and Advocate for Diversity in STEM. “This data shows that trade schools, apprenticeship schemes and trade employers must do more to ensure vocational training and opportunities meet the demands of the modern world. We must bring the world of STEM and skilled trades together”.
To address the need for more skilled tradespeople in society, 3M has committed to creating 5 million unique STEM and skilled trade roles globally, through its Skilled Trades partnerships. This also includes ‘reverse mentoring’, which sees workers help to upskill older employees on digital competencies. To continue growing the respect and attraction of skilled trades jobs, training schemes must put STEM at the heart of this sector.