STEM Shortages

science labTechnology has changed the landscape of the job market.  There is no doubt that technological innovations have led to a displacement of workers. It is also clear that advances in information technology are now displacing highly educated people in the service sector of the economy. Medicine and financial services are prime examples. There is currently an emphasis on careers in the STEM disciplines, however.  This includes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  What does the future hold for careers in these areas? Will the jobs materialize? There is no doubt that fresher ideas are needed. A need for large-scale infrastructure projects has to be perpetuated. But, there ARE plenty of jobs in science, technology; engineering, and math—STEM—ready to fill. The latest reports indicate that the supply of STEM workers is not meeting the needs of businesses and this is jeopardizing our nation’s ability to drive innovation and competitiveness and seize a global advantage. A U.S. Department of Commerce report shows that in the past decade STEM jobs grew at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs, and that STEM workers have greater job stability. Occupations in these fields are expected to grow by 17 percent by 2018, nearly double the rate of growth in non-STEM occupations. Today 1 of every 18 workers is employed in a STEM occupation—from accountants for small retailers to engineers for airplane manufacturers, from computer programmers to mechanical engineers, and from statisticians to chemists—and the ratio is likely to shrink.

STEM educators need to continue preparation of students in these fields and with this preparation, foster solutions for global challenges. There is an alarming deficiency in these fields because students are not collectively doing well in the STEM disciplines. The strength and growth of manufacturing and high technology industries are dependent on a highly qualified workforce, especially in the STEM disciplines.  STEM careers are now requiring post-secondary education that can only be acquired at the college level. Offering STEM-focused courses and customizing real-world, experiential curricula are imperative. American business needs to determine what young people should know and be able to do as a result of their college experience—and then help them get there. And students need to take advantage of the educator-business partnerships that are becoming more prevalent in the nation. Apprentice programs need to be more pervasive.  There are programs where salary and benefits accompany that training.

The engine of growth that fuels our economic competitiveness links firmly to our ability to develop and educate the most adaptable workforce. The educational institutions need to systematically approach the need for science, technology, engineering and math degrees. This is a responsibility we, as Americans, all share if we want to provide solutions for job market shortages. Revitalizing STEM education is crucial to the job market. Do your part – encourage your children to love math and science early on and perpetuate this notion as they matriculate through the secondary and post-secondary years.

Source: Schiavelli, Mel. “STEM Jobs Outlook Strong, but Collaboration Needed to Fill Jobs.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, Web. 25 June 2013.

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