Sustainability Blog

STEM the Flow of Graduates for the Lube Industry

By Simon Johns and Apurva Gosalia - Jul 22, 2021

To “STAY SuSTAYnable!” the lubricant industry has to attract the next-generation of talented young people to replace the greying workforce. Yes, it has to do better at communicating that it exists, emphasising its role in mitigating climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions through its products and offering the kind of workplace Millennials and Generation Zs want to work in. But it’s not all on the shoulders of industry employers.

So, let’s do something unusual and talk only about the United States. Long recognized as the world leader in science and engineering, this past few years had seen the country slipping from its uncontested position in areas from investment in technology to the number of patents filed and papers published, according to the annual report by the National Science Board.

While the United States is still the largest investor in R&D, other nations, particularly China, are coming up behind quickly. At the same time, the federal government has been reducing its funding participation – whether that’s reversed, we’ll wait and see.

The science and engineering workforce has grown, and the number of women and underrepresented minorities along with it, but these groups are still underrepresented.

According to the National Science Foundation, the country’s universities award the most doctoral degrees in the world, but more than half of those in science and engineering go to non-citizens. Foreign-born people also make a significant proportion of the science and engineering workforce. Meanwhile, American high schoolers rank in the mid-table of advanced economies in math and science in international assessments.

The Bureau of National Statistics predicts there will be 8% more STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) jobs by 2029, but these will be computer-related.

So, perhaps the question is not how can the lubricants industry sell itself as sustainable and attractive to American STEM graduates, but how can the U.S. education system sustain a steady enough flow of graduates to flow through to the industry at all?

Discuss in the comments below.

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