The "CSI Effect:" Cacking the Case of the STEM Skills Gap

Forensic science is a discipline that needs no help in recruiting more graduates into its ranks. The "CSI Effect," a term coined in the early 2000s, demonstrates how primetime crime dramas have piqued audience interest in forensics, inspiring a higher intake of graduates into the field than ever before. It has also has sparked a disproportionate effect on women, as strong savvy protagonists like Temperance Brennan in Bones encourage female graduates to follow careers in the industry.

In fact, the inspirational impact of the "CSI Effect" is so well documented that some industry commentators hope it can work for other STEM subjects, which are suffering from a lack of engagement at further and higher education level. And, at odds with the trend we're seeing in forensics, where women are becoming better represented in the field, much work needs to be done to encourage women into other STEM careers. The need to foster an open and diverse scientific community that draws from an array of unique experiences and viewpoints is vital in attracting and retaining the best talent.

But why pick a career in STEM?

A huge advantage of a STEM degree is the wealth of opportunities it offers. If you take a STEM subject, you're no longer automatically destined for a career as a scientist or engineer (although these are great career options too), there is a world of possibility open to you: from forensic science to data analytics -- and everything in between. At Skype, our creative software engineers and developers work to create technology that really changes lives -- bringing people together, wherever they are.

In fact, software engineering is one of the most exciting areas of technology out there -- fast-paced and challenging. The days of software engineers huddled in a dark room punching out lines of code is long gone -- these guys are the inventors, creators, builders and designers that will fundamentally change the world.

Big data is another area of technology which is opening up career options to anyone with a STEM degree. The potential to provide new and more precise insights about everything from user behavior to customer habits is fast becoming seen as a crucial tool for business. However, without trained employees with the right skills, the value from this data will simply go to waste.

Who's your role model?

There's also no doubt that role models are important in recreating this CSI Effect. As a young person studying STEM, it's vital that you're inspired to continue working in the field by people you can relate to -- technologists from all walks of life who work on the world's coolest projects.

Promoting the work of women in STEM is crucial here too -- raising awareness and empowering girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the field.

And start young.

And lastly, don't just think about STEM when you're considering which degree course to take. You're never too young to get involved in the subject, and get hands on with technology. Demonstrating the excitement and promise of a career in STEM to boys and girls of all ages is vital to fuelling the next generation of technologists. The future is bright if everyone works to promote the great opportunities which STEM offers. But the future relies on young people like you.

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