Humanity graduates also have the added challenge of the perception that their degrees aren’t as valuable coupled with the drive in recent years towards Stem subjects. In the UK government initiatives pushing towards STEM subjects have seen a 20% drop in students taking A-Levels in English and a 15% decrease in arts subjects. At a global level, Australia has gone even further charging students higher fees for humanities subjects in a push to incentivise ‘job-relevant” choices.
There is a perception by governments that pushing Stem subjects is an important part of the solution to the tech skills shortage. But it’s more complex than that and fails to fully understand the issue on a couple of counts. Firstly, it doesn’t account for the mismatch between those studying technical courses and the demands of the workplace. It also fails to take into account the shift in Silicon Valley and the tech industry more broadly in recent years.
Whilst historically there was a trend in thinking that Stem education was the be all and end all amongst tech companies, recent years have seen a shift in thinking amongst Silicon Valley’s biggest players with them realising the huge benefits found in humanities subjects. As writer and Forbes reporter George Anders explains:
“Uber was picking up psychology majors to deal with unhappy riders and drivers. Opentable was hiring English majors to bring data to restauranteurs to get them excited about what data could do for their restaurants. I realised that the ability to communicate and get along with people, and understand what’s on other people’s minds, and do full-strength critical thinking – all of these things were valued and appreciated by everyone as important job skills, except the media.”
So it seems that there is a definite need- and indeed a demand- for humanities grads in the tech world. How then can you start taking steps to become a software engineer?