The Malta Independent 14 April 2024, Sunday
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Comparison of STEM and STEAM: Exploring the rationale

Sunday, 3 March 2024, 09:45 Last update: about 2 months ago

Loranne Avsar

The influence of technology on sectors like healthcare, retail, and finance is immense, driving innovation and transformation. By 2030, automation will be able to handle 80% of project management tasks using Artificial Intelligence (AI), increasingly mimicking human capabilities.

Yet, specific vital soft skills, such as teamwork, cooperation, creativity, and adaptability to change, remain beyond the reach of computers in the workplace. Possessing robust soft skills enhances versatility and opens diverse growth opportunities in the contemporary job market.


The rising need for soft skills has prompted the development of new curricula to prepare aspirants entering the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields to meet the dynamic demands of the workforce. The evolving roles within STEM now call for well-rounded professionals who combine technical expertise with arts-related skills.

According to Dr. Ali P. Gordon, an associate professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida, proficiency in the arts is crucial for professionals in emerging industries like themed experiences, gaming, and simulation and training. Collaborations between programmers, engineers, and artists are becoming more common to co-develop software, products, and renderings.

This shift in demand has given rise to the STEAM acronym, incorporating the Arts into STEM fields to prepare individuals for the multifaceted requirements of the job market. STEM vs. STEAM has become a topic of consideration, evaluating their advantages and applications in the professional domain.

What is STEM?

STEM-focused curricula aim to equip professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to compete globally in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, extending to sub-disciplines such as statistics, biology, psychology, economics, agriculture, and aeronautics.

STEM jobs contribute to economic advancement through innovation. However, rapid technological changes continually reshape the landscape, rendering some previously essential skills obsolete. Thus, STEM represents a dynamic field, requiring students to acquire subject-matter expertise while developing adaptability.

What is STEAM?

Recognising the growing importance of soft skills across industries, the need for curricula integrating STEM with the arts has emerged. Creative skills and knowledge of the arts aid STEM professionals in solving problems innovatively. STEAM-focused curricula integrate humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design, new media, and more. This diversification enhances marketability, with 57% of senior leaders valuing soft skills over hard skills.

STEM vs. STEAM: The Difference

The distinction between STEM and STEAM lies in their approach to scientific concepts. While STEM focuses explicitly on hard scientific and mathematical skills, STEAM combines hard and soft skills to solve problems. For instance, STEAM encourages collaboration to understand STEM concepts using tools like data visualisation and fine art imagery.

STEM Career Opportunities

The demand for STEM professionals is critical in Europe, with projected job growth exceeding the current workforce capacity. This trend is evident across various STEM occupations, such as information security analysts, mathematicians, and statisticians.

STEM workers typically experience higher earnings, with the median salary for STEM college-educated, full-time workers being almost the double of more than other college majors.

Is Engineering a Growing STEM Industry?

Engineering, a vital STEM field, offers diverse career paths, including civil, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial, materials, and mechanical engineering. The BLS projects substantial growth in engineering jobs across various sectors, including manufacturing.

What Type of Career Can You Have in STEAM?

STEAM careers include architects, sound engineers, graphic designers, conservators, product designers, urban planners, and archaeologists.

STEM vs. STEAM: Which Is the Better Career Path?

STEM and STEAM offer growth opportunities and the choice between them depends on individual skills, career goals, and interests. As technology evolves, the importance of soft skills becomes more pronounced. Since machines cannot replicate specific skills, such as leadership, communication, and collaboration, training in these areas through new curricula will be essential for success in the AI and technology era.

Note: This article has been compiled from information obtained from trustworthy sources on the internet, aiming to offer general insights about the subject.



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