3M global survey reveals science is the key to a resilient and prosperous future
Feb 22, 2024

As the world navigates environmental challenges, societal shifts, and rapidly evolving technologies, science continues to provide solutions. The 2024 3M State of Science Insights* survey reveals people view science as critical to both society and their daily lives. Commissioned by 3M and fielded by Morning Consult, the global survey shows that science is viewed as a fundamental part of how the world addresses urgent issues like climate change, shapes the future of work, and fosters growth in STEM careers and green jobs – all essential components of a prosperous future.

“It’s encouraging to see widespread recognition of the critical role of science in our lives,” said John Banovetz, executive vice president, chief technology officer and environmental responsibility, 3M. “Science is what enables 3M to innovate vital solutions that transform lives, help preserve our planet, make people safer and more productive, and build a brighter tomorrow.”

As 3M works to address global challenges, we know the opportunities and issues posed by climate change, the future of work, and emerging technologies cannot be tackled independently – they are interconnected. To drive global progress forward, the world must look at these macro-forces collectively and work together – as businesses, governments, educational institutions, and individuals.

Climate change is one of the biggest threats to humankind
Climate change is an incredibly complex issue impacting the global population in a variety of ways – and most acknowledge it must be addressed with urgency. In fact, more than three-quarters of survey respondents think climate change is one of the biggest threats to humankind (81%) and as the impacts of climate change affect more communities, the issue also becomes more personal.

While nearly half of the global respondents claim they have already been impacted by climate change (43%), one-third (30%) believe their community will be impacted within the next ten years. Extreme weather events (52%), lack of clean water (34%), long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns (32%), and climate change related to health issues (31%) are among the top concerns.

“3M is intensifying our commitment to finding innovative climate solutions,” said Gayle Schueller, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer, 3M. “We are focused on using cutting-edge materials science and technology to address this paramount issue, advancing decarbonization, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and sustainable infrastructure to protect our planet and its people.”

Globally, 85% of survey respondents believe companies need to be more committed to using sustainable materials, and 77% demand transparency from companies that claim sustainable commitments. 3M is proud of our diverse set of sustainability goals and reports on our progress each year in the Global Impact Report.

The future of work is defined by skilled trades, STEM and green jobs
The global workforce continues to evolve as shifting demographics and climate change reshape the world around us. Despite change and uncertainty for many, respondents feel hopeful that skilled trades, STEM, and green jobs will lead the way and play a significant role in the future of work. In fact, respondents say skilled trades (83%) are their top recommended career choice for younger generations to pursue, with STEM (80%) and green jobs (78%) closely following, demonstrating global relevancy and importance of these vital careers across sectors. 

“For the world’s transition to a low-carbon economy, STEM and skilled trade careers are vital.  We must encourage people to pursue these fields and support them on their journey,” said Jayshree Seth, corporate scientist and chief science advocate, 3M. “As the challenges facing our world evolve, the next generation can help us adapt by applying their skills to create and implement innovative science-based sustainable solutions.” 

While careers in STEM still offer the greatest opportunity to younger generations, green jobs are inching their way up. Not only do respondents see green jobs as a growing field (51%), but as climate change rattles communities, they believe the world needs more green workers (49%). Additionally, many see green jobs as an opportunity for innovation and problem solving.

Green jobs signal hope and opportunity
As global anxieties around climate change increase, the growth of green jobs can offer relief—benefitting the planet, people, and economic growth. Defined as jobs that contribute to preserving or restoring the environment, green careers can be found in traditional sectors such as manufacturing and construction or expanding fields like renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Along with governments, businesses, and organizations, the public is increasingly recognizing the importance of the green economy. Globally, 75% of respondents believe green jobs are crucial to addressing climate change and 77% believe green jobs will have a positive impact on society.

On a personal level, many believe these jobs offer promising career opportunities, and most expect to see growth in the green jobs market over the next five years (75%). Survey findings show that with this global momentum and positive sentiment, there is an opportunity for businesses to seize the moment and drive green skills development:

  • Green jobs are for everyone. Most respondents (70%) believe people in all career stages should look for green jobs. This could indicate that green workers are more likely to share a purpose-driven mindset than age group or professional background.  
  • There is a universal feeling of excitement and respect for green jobs. About three-quarters (73%) believe green jobs provide exciting new opportunities, have a positive impact on society (77%), and command respect for those who perform them (77%).
  • Interest in learning green skills is widespread. Two-thirds (65%) of people would like to learn skills that could help them land a green job, and 63% also believe they don’t need a career change to perform one.

The AI revolution and its impact on the world around us
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is associated with both opportunities and challenges, including economic transformation, fears of social disruption, governance concerns, and impacts on education and jobs. Despite these conflicting perspectives, it is undeniable that AI is shaping the future.  

According to survey respondents, 77% believe AI will change the world as we know it, yet 77% also believe due to its revolutionary potential, AI needs to be heavily regulated. It’s clear that attitudes toward AI are situational between life at home and work. Most people (61%) note an increased presence of AI in their lives, a clear understanding of where AI is being used in their everyday life (55%), and a strong conviction that AI is a tool for problem solving (68%).

Beyond AI, there is general fear that emerging technologies, robots, and automation will replace workers (66%). Possibly fueled by this concern, most people say they would be excited to work with these evolving innovations.

Building a brighter tomorrow
As the world transitions toward a green economy and society driven by emerging technology, people’s relationship and engagement with science will continue to grow and evolve. By continuing to innovate solutions that mitigate the effects of climate change, spreading awareness of the impact and importance of green jobs, and responsibly integrating emerging technologies, 3M will help advance global progress and a brighter future for all.

*State of Science Insights Methodology
The 3M State of Science Insights presents original, third-party research, conducted by Morning Consult. The survey was fielded from December 13, 2023 to January 10, 2024 and surveyed 10 countries across Asia Pacific, North America, South America, and Europe among 1,000 general population adults (18+) in each of the following countries: Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, U.K., and the U.S. At the 95% confidence level, the margin of error is +/- 1 percentage points at the global, 10-country level and +/- 3 percentage points for each individual country.

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