An ideal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum blends those four disciplines and takes a hands-on approach to encourage learners to explore, analyze and evaluate situations. STEM also applies to elementary school students and upward, not just people in undergraduate programs.
People with STEM backgrounds are well-equipped for current and future roles in the workforce. It’s time to become more dedicated than ever about getting people interested in pursuing STEM for their career paths.
STEM graduates increase global competitiveness
The United States has recently focused on how to stimulate opportunities for the domestic workforce instead of depending on other countries to meet economic needs. Various approaches have been taken to help reach that goal, and research indicates that another practical possibility is to increase the number of STEM programs available for college students.
Some 2017 data showed the United States in third place for its number of STEM graduates, behind India and China. That positioning could eventually spell trouble if the U.S. wants to stay competitive in the global marketplace, especially concerning innovations that improve productivity and positively change society.
Getting people more interested in STEM careers is essential for keeping countries moving forward and ensuring that residents have opportunities to use their skills and thrive. Investing in STEM training should have long-term effects on a nation’s workforce by preparing it to take the roles that are most likely to be available in the near future.
STEM knowledge boosts job security
There’s a growing need for people with STEM skills, particularly because’s there’s an urgent tech knowledge gap that must be quickly addressed. Ultimately, it could result in more than a million unfilled jobs by 2020, and it’s getting worse.
The skills shortage means companies can’t fill their open positions, leaving them at prolonged disadvantages related to the ability to progress as the market changes. But there are other hindrances too.
A poll of human resources professionals in the United Kingdom found that the STEM skills shortage there results in up to £1.5 billion in extra costs annually due to issues such as the prolonged time it takes to find people for the open roles and the need to recruit people on a temporary basis to compensate.
Put another way, individuals who do have the necessary STEM training to fill roles on a short-term basis could find ample opportunities to boost their earnings — even as freelancers.
People with STEM skills can feel confident that they possess the knowledge needed to easily find work soon after graduation and throughout their time in the job market. A different United-Kingdom-based study found that most tech firms there expect skills shortages. By getting trained in STEM, people can help meet a pressing need and anticipate career security.
College professors could stimulate continual interest in STEM
Several STEM subjects make the list of the best college majors based on factors like popularity and annual salaries, but there’s still a known issue where even people who initially choose to major in STEM subjects don’t graduate with those degrees.
Research compiled by the U.S. government shows that college students who start in STEM roles are more likely than other undergraduates to switch to other majors before graduation. People majoring in mathematics were the most likely of all to take that route.
Numerous factors could cause people to change their minds about their majors. They may realize that the material doesn’t capture their interest as much as they initially envisioned or decide that they’re better suited to other subjects.
College professors could have a meaningful and positive impact by paying attention when students get frustrated and discouraged, making course material relevant and explaining how the concepts learned are beneficial outside of the classroom.
College educators also play crucial roles in helping students discover their passions. It’s not only necessary to help people get ready to earn incomes but also vital to help them understand why the work they do is meaningful. Professors could help students realize how much they love STEM subjects and how the knowledge will enable them to change societies for the better.
People have mixed feelings about STEM careers
The conscious push to drive interest in STEM-related work must also address some of the misconceptions people have about the relevant roles. If certain issues aren’t clarified, individuals may not take the initiative to independently seek the correct information.
A study from the Pew Research Center showed that opinions differ about STEM careers. For example, although people recognize that STEM careers offer chances to engage in high-paying work, some also consider the STEM field hard to break into and think it provides less flexibility than non-STEM work.
Educators and people currently working in STEM roles could encourage future generations by providing much-needed feedback. For example, there’s a growing trend of work-at-home engineering jobs, and similar opportunities are emerging for people with science backgrounds. Those options could broaden the viewpoints of people who think STEM careers lack flexibility.
People with STEM careers could eventually transition into other opportunities like teaching, writing books or consulting. Then, if they wanted to focus on other things like family life, different kinds of work that don’t necessarily fit into traditional 9-to-5 ideals could allow such changes.
If there are active attempts to shed light on some factors of STEM careers that the general public may not understand, more people may be interested in pursuing these positions.
STEM careers have both individual and broader benefits
A STEM career path could assist the person who takes it as well as result in broader benefits that help economies and societies at large. But getting more people interested in STEM doesn’t have a straightforward answer.
Instead, it requires an ongoing and targeted effort to understand what’s causing reduced interest in those fields and then working to combat the problem.