For the past several decades, America has been the world leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This has been an important aspect to both our nation’s security and economic competitiveness. Ensuring America continues to generate innovative technological advances on par with our past innovations is critical to maintaining our standing as the world’s STEM leader. Over the last decade, however, there has been considerable trepidation concerning our STEM workforce’s ability to meet the current and future technological needs, let alone be the undisputed STEM leader.
Understanding The STEM Crisis
Raving Software believes that change in our nation’s STEM posture starts at the grassroots level. As such, we are focusing a part of our website to not only educating the public in the national STEM crisis, but also providing pathways for students interested in STEM and opportunities for businesses to become part of the solution.
”The best way to predict the future is to create it.Abraham Lincoln
Unprepared for Future
As technology becomes more integral to our daily lives, business processes and factories, it has become mandatory for professionals to have a solid STEM background if they want to succeed in business. Many high-paying positions will emerge in the near future to implement and maintain automated systems. However, the US is unprepared to handle these advances in technology.
Technical Skills Gap
The “STEM workforce” is complex, extensive, and defined differently in various settings. STEM complexity is vast and covers many different sub-workforces. The American workforce is facing a technical skills gap. America’s current rate of STEM undergraduate degrees will not keep up with the forecasted STEM requirements. In 2016, America had approximately 3 million STEM jobs that could not be filled due to lack of qualified workers.
To compound the STEM technical skills gap, approximately 74 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree in STEM work outside of STEM occupations. Women are especially under-represented in the STEM careers—only 14 percent of engineers and 26 percent of computer professionals are women.
Another factor in the growing STEM gap is the growing pace of technology. As new technologies are created, new corresponding skills are required and older skills quickly become obsolete. A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research states “Faster technological progress creates a greater sense of shortage, but it is the new STEM skills that are scarce, not the workers themselves.”
The majority of STEM college graduates are not working in the STEM field
Cool or Nerdy?
STEM is seen as not cool and too hard resulting in many high school students leaving STEM. Many high school students who start off interested in pursuing a STEM career switch gears by the 12th grade. Part of the reason is that STEM has a reputation for being too hard and, plainly, not cool.
In addition, nationwide STEM test scores fall swiftly after 8th grade and are actually below average as the students approach high school graduation. The lack of “coolness factor” hits girls especially hard. Couple this nerdiness with young women being 34 percent more likely to acknowledge STEM pathways are difficult to grasp and you have the perfect recipe for only 22 percent of girls to prioritize technology as a favored school subject.
”Be nice to nerds. Chances are you will end up working for one.Bill Gates
STEM education reform is needed to solve the STEM crisis. Many Americans believe our STEM Education quality is simply mediocre.
The Pew Research Center identified several issues that impact STEM education:
- Unconcerned parents
- Disinterested students
- Obsolete curriculum materials
- Too much focus on state parameters
The Pew Research Center determined that in 2015, the US ranked 24th out of 71 countries in science and 38th in math. When compared to the 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, the US ranked 30th in both math and science.
”Don't be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don't let others discourage you or tell you that you can't do it. In my day, I was told women didn't get into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn't.Gertrude B. Elion