Why are Problem-Solving Skills Important?
The ability to think creatively, and to innovate and adapt to change, is a prerequisite for life and for the workplace in the 21st century. Individuals, organisations and societies that can analyse and solve problems effectively can reap huge benefits.
Almost all jobs require some problem-solving skills, but certain occupations revolve around workers’ ability to solve problems. Occupations in STEM are a case in point.
Problem-Solving and STEM Careers
Creative problem solving and lateral thinking are at the heart of STEM. The Problem-Solving Initiative challenges and empowers young people in Ireland to hone these transferrable skills, which are a critical requirement for the future leaders in STEM fields.
Students who love solving problems can consult a variety of resources to ascertain the kinds of roles most suited to their skills and interests. For example, the Occupational Information Network (O*NET – online.onetcenter.org) is a US Department of Labor database that compiles detailed information on hundreds of jobs. It enables students to search for roles requiring ‘Complex Problem Solving Skills’, that is, developed capacities used to solve novel, ill-defined problems in complex, real-world settings.
14 of the top 20 roles problem-solving occupations cited by O*NET are in STEM, including mathematicians, healthcare professionals, engineers and physicists. Through online profiles, the Problem-Solving Initiative will bring these occupations to life, as STEM professionals share their passion for problem solving and give examples of how problem solving is at the core of their careers.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2012) reports that “Today’s workplaces demand people who can solve non-routine problems. Complex problem-solving skills are particularly in demand in fast-growing, highly skilled managerial, professional and technical occupations.”