STEM 21st Century: Competing Means Focusing on Our Roots.
January 1, 2014
STEM roots, that is.
STEM, the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is the basis of a nationwide effort to refocus education toward the sciences. In order to compete in a global society, STEM 21st Century skills are critical. In many ways, it is the reaction on a macro-marketing scale of scientists, engineers and others who are trying to compete with the “3R’s” of “reading, writing, ‘rithmetic.”
From primary schools to graduate schools, the revolution has begun and the future of our economic development depends on it.
Through the work of scientists, innovators and engineers, the United States has become a global leader, but our position is vulnerable as there are an inadequate number of teachers skilled in these subjects and fewer students pursuing careers in these crucial fields.
STEM employees drive our nation’s advancement and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new products, and new businesses. According to the US Department of Commerce, in the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs has increased three times as fast as non-STEM jobs. Consider these statistics:
- In 2010, there were 7.6 million STEM workers in the US; 1 in 18 workers were in STEM related fields.
- STEM occupations are expected to grow by 17 percent between 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent in non-STEM fields.
- STEM employees command higher wages, earning 26 percent more than non-STEM workers.
- In addition to higher earnings, STEM occupations on average experience lower unemployment rates that workers in other fields.
STEM learning is an economic necessity. Experts from STEMtisticsSM show that technological innovation accounted for nearly half of the US economic growth over the past 50 years. Yet, our country is falling behind in science, technology, engineering and math.
- In 2009, only 34 percent of US eighth graders were rated proficient or higher in a national math assessment and one in four scored below the basic level.
- In an international exam given to 15 year olds in 2009, US high school students ranked significantly behind 12 industrialized nations in science and 17 in math. Students in only 4 industrialized nations scored lower in math.
- Only 45 percent of US high school graduates in 2011 were ready for college in math and 30 percent were ready in science.
By introducing STEM to students in grade schools, it lays the groundwork for the future and gets them comfortable with these subjects at a young age. Additionally, students gain an awareness of occupations associated with STEM fields, which stimulates their interest in wanting to take STEM related courses. As students progress to higher grade levels, they continue on a program of study with challenging courses that increases their knowledge and exploration of real world based learning opportunities and prepares them for successful secondary education or employment.
In conclusion, the greatest advancements from mechanics to medicine have come from those interested in and studied in the areas of STEM. The STEM workforce plays a fundamental role in our nation’s competitiveness, economic growth and overall day to day lives. STEM education is vital from grade school through high school and beyond because let’s face it, STEM jobs are the jobs of the future.
These are some of the reasons why En-Site is so passionate about STEM education. For more information about what we are doing locally in our community to support STEM in schools, check out the The Foundation for Lee County Schools or our STEM Team of SWFL Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/STEMSWFL.