02 February 2023

“I felt at ease because I knew that there’s finally a guide for students like me,” said Charlize Daniel, a teenager and a grade 9 student of the University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS), who, just like other students of her age, is still figuring out what she wants to become in the future. Two years before getting to senior high, Charlize admits to having a hard time choosing a strand and imagining her life after college. But she has eventually found a way to solve this problem — through Finding North in STEM: A Career Guidebook for Students, a new publication of the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) to help students choose the most suitable college course in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) matching their personal attributes and aspirations.

Charlize is one of the first students to use the Guidebook, and her statement is proof that with a friendly compass at hand, taking the path towards the future in STEM would be a lot easier for Filipino students.

There are so many options in STEM as it hosts a wide array of successful and fruitful careers the students can venture in — Aeronautics, Biotechnology, Electronics, Chemistry, IT, and many more. These disciplines, while different from each other, are also interconnected as the advancement of knowledge in one STEM discipline cannot be achieved without the contributions of others. This blurs the lines and boundaries among the various careers in STEM and the multitude of benefits that science and technology bring to national development and human achievements.

Indeed, the world of STEM is potentially integrated and interdisciplinary, leading to countless opportunities one can explore and consider. And choosing this track opens doors to unimaginable possibilities that help make a difference in the lives of many.

However, while the broad sphere and diverse yet interrelated roads of STEM spark excitement and thrill for many, the thought of choosing only one career from these fields can also be extremely overwhelming and challenging for some.

Hence, in efforts to preserve the legacy of STEM and escort the Filipino youth in chasing their future from the many career options available in it, the DOST-SEI, in collaboration with the Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Mathematics Education and Research (FPSMER), has brought to life Finding North in STEM: A Career Guidebook for Students.

The Guidebook aspires to be a handy reference and an effective assessment tool to usher Filipino high school students towards a fulfilling and an exciting career in STEM that fits their unique skills, personality traits, and interests. It seeks to help the students to be proactive in making their way forward and in charting their career roadmap in STEM, thereby, inspiring them to broaden their horizons to make that leap towards a meaningful future.

“We envision that this guidebook will allow the students to realize their inner potential in STEM and help the country attain a critical mass of science and technology professionals. We hope that it will spark interest among the youth to take part in the highly competitive and tech-driven world and contribute towards elevating our country’s adaption to this new era,” said SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo during the launch of the STEM Career Guidebook.

Symbolic of the Filipinos’ constant desire to advance and progress as a nation, the Guidebook is envisioned to contribute to developing a pool of science and technology human resources in the country, inevitably helping DOST-SEI to spur national growth by nurturing a culture of science and technology among the youth, promoting STEM education, and popularizing STEM careers that may be unfamiliar to many.

Evidently, the Guidebook strives to make STEM more inclusive, accessible, and democratic, making sure that everyone is given the opportunity to explore STEM, allowing them to have a second look at the future plans that they currently have in mind.

As UP NISMED Director Dr. Sheryl Monterola said during the launching event, “The guidebook is not only for students already interested in STEM, but will also be impactful to those who are not yet certain about which path to take in college. This is our way of extending our hands to the future, making sure that we really participate in building the critical mass of a productive workforce in science.”

The Guidebook serves as a torch that lights the path into the future, a compass meant to help the youth – the future of the Filipino nation – find their true place in STEM, build confidence in their potential, and conquer their fear of the unknown, all in hopes of making a lasting impact in the service of the Filipino people.

STEM jobs as the future of the Philippine economy

The high demand for STEM skills in our present society serves as the main motivation behind the production of DOST-SEI’s STEM Career Guidebook. Through the years, most especially in the last three years, many, if not all, have witnessed the immense value and impact that STEM provides in all facets of life – building communities, preventing and curing diseases, reshaping lifestyles, and solving numerous problems in society. It has changed and transformed almost every aspect of people's lives. And all these changes and developments perpetuate with the continuous emergence of new technology which also heightens the expansion of the “new disruptors” – artificial intelligence, supercomputing platforms, automation, big data analytics, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and many more.

These technological trends have made us exist in what is so far, the most advanced epoch in the history of mankind. They have fueled digitalization and driven the force for globalization, thus, boosting the global economy and enabling anyone to seek better ways to improve their quality of life.

However, the digitalization has been affecting our lives in a manner unforeseen by many. Advancements in technology are now taking over at a very fleeting and unanticipated rate, changing also the future of work and diversifying the creation of jobs. And with the ceaseless progression of scientific innovations, this volatile change in the demand for skills and occupation is more likely to persist.

Today, global and local industries expect a new breed of workers that exemplify extensive knowledge coupled with technical skills and solid grounding, understanding, and appreciation of how machines and new technology work. In a nutshell, these industries are now in a thirst for workers equipped with high levels of 21st century skills — the STEM skills.

This exigency for STEM-skilled workers is very apparent in the current Philippines, and many experts have projected this need for S&T professionals to grow even more in the forthcoming years. Truly, with the COVID-19 pandemic, STEM careers are definitely the way to go.

Unfortunately, the fast-paced changes in the labor landscape arise more swiftly than our current capacities can accommodate. In fact, the 2020 study initiated by the DOST-SEI in partnership with the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), “The Future S&T Human Resource Requirements in the Philippines: A Labor Market Analysis,” revealed that the S&T workforce constitutes only a small portion of the country’s total workforce. And despite the increasing demand for S&T resources and a great upturn on their employability prospects, many of the youth still refuse to pursue and persevere in STEM careers.

Related to this, the 2019 survey report on the “Youth Education Investment and Labor Market Outcomes in the Philippines” has established that the limited access to information about the STEM strand, as well as financial constraints, are two significant factors that influence the youth’s interest to pursue STEM. It was found that when it comes to choosing a college course, parents remain to be the primary source of information. While largely reasonable, this becomes problematic when family members also have limited knowledge on the crucial role that STEM plays for economic growth and national development, and if they are only relying on their outlook on the potential earning capacity of jobs. Aside from this, concerns on financial capability also turned out to be a barrier to the youth’s choice of their future careers.
Indeed, there are a lot of Filipinos who might be ill-prepared for the emerging career opportunities in STEM. Among them are those in the disadvantaged and poverty-stricken communities.

Given this problem, the DOST-SEI has sought for a way to increase the scope of their flagship program and intensify their means of reaching out to the youth. Through the project dubbed “#Push4Science: Maging DOST Scholar Ka” campaign, the Institute has crafted and developed the STEM Career Guidebook, a material packed with information that can kick-start the youth’s journey in STEM and inspire them to become our country’s future scientists, engineers, and researchers.

The need for quality STEM professionals has never wavered, and progressive countries have met their needs by continuously promoting these fields among their youths. In this same line, the DOST-SEI envisions a Philippines that has a critical mass of STEM experts who proactively contribute in nation-building by using science, technology, and innovation.

It cannot be denied that STEM plays a very important role in nation building. Our country remains to face enormous challenges and trials. On top of these are the ever-recurring health crises, environmental degradation, climate change, urban transport crisis, and the inadequate internet services and power supply in rural and geographically isolated areas. Finding solutions to these problems seems to have no end. Thus, we need more people in the workforce with advanced mindsets, specialized skills, creative drives, and strong competencies to address the current and future challenges and to reduce the country’s vulnerability to the impact of such problems.

And the STEM Career Guidebook is foreseen to be an effective stimulus that rouses every young soul’s interest in STEM and ignites their aspiration to become our country’s future game-changers and contributors to national progress.

Moving the needle to STEM through the STEER framework

In order to help the students paint a clearer picture of their future in STEM, the Guidebook uses the STEER Framework – an acronym that stands for the five sections: Self-Assessment, Tying-Up, Exploration, Evaluation, and Reflection. Embodying what the word “steer” literally means, these sections set direction to one’s career path by providing a systematic, step-by-step guide to creating a career plan that maps out goals, clarifies doubts, and stimulates the interest of the students in asking questions and finding answers to their worries of the future. They bind together a rich source of assessments, mapping, field situationers, case studies, reflection tools, and many more, and allow students to get in touch with their personal strengths and characteristics as they explore and evaluate the career aligned with their specific interests and skills.

Guided by the STEER framework, the DOST-SEI believes that developing the STEM Career Guidebook is a strategic move to steer action-decision making of students in favor of STEM. Here is a brief discussion on how the framework works:


This section marks the first step in the students' career planning and career development journey. It centers on the aspect of knowing oneself, allowing the students to assess their work values to discover more of their capacities and get to know their selves better. Prior to knowing about the best career choice that fits their attributes and aspirations, this section directs students to revisit their own unique pattern of interests through the seven (7) clues or questions that delve into their dream jobs, favorite subjects, motivations, and the different things that satisfy them. It also encourages students to take their time to self-reflect by providing a list of the progressive life skills needed in pursuing any career in STEM and having them rate their skill level. Included in the skills inventory are science and mathematics, thinking, technology, communicating and collaborating, and socio-emotional learning skills. This section also involves an inventory of the students’ achievements or accomplishments, as well as of their work value priorities to help them focus on choosing a career that is most suitable and most compatible to their current goals and abilities.


In this section, the students will have to make an in-depth evaluation of their selves – their skills, values, interests, and achievements. They will put together the results of their self-assessment to unearth their desired destination – their desired career. They will also list some steps on how to reach the one career that best fits their profile. This section specifically features a career cluster interest infographics, allowing the students to see which STEM cluster they can pursue based on their interests. It also reserves a space for a vision board where students can compile pictures, doodles, and quotes that represent the future them and a to-do list which allows them to pause and reflect on their next steps toward making a well-informed choice. Overall, this section allows students to create a tentative career map, a written plan outlining where they currently are and where they want to be, and enumerating ways on how they can get to the place they desire.


After having them go through an in-depth self-assessment, the Guidebook takes the students to a tour on the diverse world of STEM. This section, specifically, allows students to explore what STEM degree programs they are inclined to take. It shows the available DOST-SEI undergraduate and graduate scholarship opportunities that are related to the students’ desired STEM courses and lists down the various universities and colleges where such STEM courses and scholarship programs are offered. Moreover, this section allows students to have a glimpse of how their career will look like after college. It enumerates the career options relevant to each degree program, highlights several jobs that one can take after graduation, and provides a list of the major industries where a graduate of each degree program can go to. A career exploration sheet is provided for students to use as a tool to note down additional information about their target careers. It can be information about potential occupations within their community, salary range, market demand, or perhaps, other scholarship opportunities. Furthermore, this section is made extra special as it includes pages that feature the true stories of outstanding individuals who found success in their respective STEM fields. A portion is also made to provide tips on how the students can thrive and enjoy their college experience to the fullest. Some notable suggestions include joining school programs and clubs, attending campus events, and participating in various activities that they don’t normally do. This section also contains a QR code that the students can scan using a mobile device to expand the information about a particular STEM degree program they are interested in.


Following the exploration on the wide variety of career options available in STEM, this section then lets the students identify and recognize the top career choices that they already have in mind. It allows them to narrow down these choices by weighing all the advantages and disadvantages of choosing these careers. Moreover, this section allows students to investigate the several factors that may help them in their career planning process, thus, granting them the opportunity to take a step back before making their big decision. Such factors include their a) interests, values, and skills; b) family career choices; c) education-related career choices; and d) community-related career choices. The activities in this section allow students to take a closer look at the given factors and dig deeper into the question of whether they are making the right choices toward their career goal.


Reaching the final part of the guidebook, the students are expected to have identified the prospective career that they are "most interested" in pursuing. And this section is made to give them more chances of building solid grounds for their choice. In this part, the students reflect on the things that they have learned so far about themselves and make an upskilling plan by determining the skills that they lack or need to improve on. Moreover, this section allows students to identify the challenges that they might encounter when they choose to pursue their potential career, thus, preparing them to be job-ready after graduation. But the main feature of this section is the career planner. Intended for their prospective career, the planner helps students put up all the pieces of information together and finally come up with a career plan. The career plan maps out their goals in every step of their career and serves as their guide in making career decisions in the future. In its last pages, the Guidebook provides a blank space wherein students can write a letter addressed to their future selves. It can be a future appreciation of what they have become, a reminder of what truly matter to them, or a fond memory that they would like to preserve.

The use of the STEER framework proves that the STEM Career Guidebook is a product of careful research on the current and future needs of the industries. Its goals make the material itself an effective approach to further engage the students in their career mapping journey. And given the self-reflexive process which the readers of the Guidebook can experience, it can be said that the material is useful for career planning. It can elevate the students’ decision-making as they take control of their future recognizing their strengths, potentials, and aspirations, and knowing the vast array of options that the future holds for them.

A work in progress: STEM Toolkit + Quick Guide for home and school use

It is important to note, however, that the path towards a dream career in STEM will not always be a smooth one. Many of the youth may encounter obstacles along the way, and a career plan will not be enough if not backed up by solid guidance, instruction, and comfort of people with trusted knowledge and understanding of the STEM field.

The youth need advisers who are knowledgeable, well-informed, and passionate enough to guide them in their STEM journey. They need motivators who can further encourage them to take a step into the unfamiliar world of STEM and venture a road less travelled by. As they say, one can never go wrong if he is surrounded by people who help him in knowing what he wants, where he wants to be, and how he can get there. And the parents and teachers, needless to say, will always be the first ones on the list.

Hence, to fully light up the path of the Filipino youth’s future in STEM, the DOST-SEI and FPSMER also have their hands full in crafting and developing the Teacher’s STEM Career Guidance Toolkit and the Parent’s Quick Guide to STEM – resources specifically made to guide teachers and parents as they assist their students/children in navigating around the comprehensive Guidebook. Since a number of researches have already established that students are heavily influenced by their teachers and parents in their choice of career disciplines, such a quick guide and toolkit can help the latter gain enough knowledge about the diverse opportunities in the STEM field, and make a case for STEM as a way of life, a space for all, and a pathway to youth’s success.

It cannot be denied that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics spark ideas of difficulty, complexity, and sophistication – descriptions that make STEM 'ideally' exclusive to those who are already inclined to it. Fortunately, the Institute now offers the STEM Career Guidebook, together with the teacher’s toolkit and parent’s quick guide, aiming to put an end to this limited mindset.

With the career guidebook helping the students develop a career map that leads them to STEM, the toolkit aiming to empower the teachers with the right STEM knowledge to help their students go over the guidebook, and the quick guide hoping to introduce STEM to parents, it is for certain that more Filipino youth will be enticed to traverse the road to STEM while carrying that much added confidence that they are fit and are very much welcomed in the field.

And with more of the youth threading in this right direction, the country, soon enough, will be filled with more people who are not just STEM experts but STEM advocates for greater positive change, a workforce ready to provide science-based solutions to pressing issues in communities.

The STEM Career Guidebook is available in print and accessible through the official website of the DOST-SEI at click here. Meanwhile, the toolkit for teachers and the quick guide for parents are currently in the process of development and will also be available soon.

Finding North in STEM: A Career Guidebook for Students is a new publication of the DOST-SEI and FPSMER to help students choose the most suitable STEM course in college matching their personal attributes and characteristics. 

The STEM Career Guidebook uses the STEER Framework which stands for the five sections: Self-Assessment, Tying-Up, Exploration, Evaluation, and Reflection. This framework provides a step-by-step guide that binds together a rich source of assessment tools to allow students get in touch with their personal strengths and apirations and create a STEM career plan. 

Students, parents, teachers, guidance couselors, and school administrators attend the launching of the STEM Career Guidebook at the University of the Philippines, National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) on November 24, 2022.

UP NISMED Director Dr. Sheryl Lyn Monterola leads the demonstration on how to navigate around the STEM Career Guidebook. 

(Left to right) DOST-SEI, UP NISMED, and FPSMER representatives Mr. Randolf Sasota, Dr. Sheryl Lyn Monterola, and Mrs. Lucille Gregorio pose for photo opportunity during the Ceremonial Turn-Over of the Guidebook.