STEM for all

You may not think of Advanced Manufacturing, Utilities and Transportation, and Mining when you think of working in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related field. But according to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce these are just some of the industries, historical providers of blue-collar, middle class jobs, that are now looking for STEM workers. And although overall jobs are disappearing from most of these industries there is actually a shortage of STEM workers in these fields.

There is also a supply shortage of more elite STEM occupations, such as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists, but focusing on the shortage in these high-level occupations overshadows the fact that the demand for workers in STEM occupations is increasing at every level, not just the college-educated.

Yet the problem does not end there. Not only is there a shortage of workers in STEM occupations, but of even greater to concern is the fact there is a shortage of workers in non-STEM fields that require basic competency in STEM skills. Specifically, the report states:

“The concern for STEM shortages tends to focus on the possibility of an insufficient supply of STEM workers, but the deeper problem is a broader scarcity of workers with basic STEM competencies across the entire economy.”

Simply put, math and science education shouldn’t be limited to preparing top students for STEM careers. All students have the basic STEM skills they need to compete in a more technologically demanding job market. The good news from the report is that our K-12 system already produces enough talent in math and science to fill our need for traditional STEM workers.

Yet, 75 percent of these students do not go onto major in a STEM related field in college. To make matters worse, of the students who do start college with a STEM major, just 38 percent graduate with a STEM degree. Although our students are taking the math and science courses in high school to be prepared for STEM work, are those courses are rigorous enough to adequately prepare students for a career in a STEM-related field?  

Either way, the report highlights the fact STEM education should not be reserved for our best and brightest students. In the near future, STEM skills will be a basic requirement for many of the jobs our current students will be applying for. It’s imperative our schools provide all our students the rigorous math and science courses they need to compete in the 21st Century job market. – Jim Hull

To see what percent of jobs will be STEM jobs in your state by 2018, check this out.

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  1. Pingback: Uncertain Future for Growth in Life Sciences « Ted Kolota

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