STEM: Preparing for the Future

STEM has become a common buzz word as of late, particularly in relation to education and jobs. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics represent the fields that make up the STEM acronym. According to the STEM Coalition, these four areas are critical to U.S. competitiveness and economic prosperity. With this in mind, it has quickly become one of the leading focus areas of policy makers, educators, and business owners alike.

“STEM occupations will grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations over the period from 2008 – 2018,” the Office of Science and Technology and Policy reports. But, “in the current overall employment market, unemployed people outnumber job postings 3.6 to one. In the STEM occupations, job postings outnumbered unemployed people by 1.9 to one,” according to data released by Change the Equation.

In addition to the gap in job requirements versus qualified candidates, women have historically been under-represented in STEM fields. New techniques are being investigated to draw more women into STEM courses in college since only 31% of STEM degrees are awarded to women. School districts across the country are also putting more emphasis on STEM classes and teaching techniques.

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The benefits for extra attention to these fields is significant. In fact, “At all levels of educational attainment, STEM job holders earn 11 percent higher wages compared with their same-degree counterparts in other jobs,” states the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. And, the consequences of ignoring STEM areas will bring lasting impact. Many leaders feel that without focusing on STEM education and employment, the U.S. will not be able to effectively compete economically or technologically on a global scale.

Does your small business involve STEM? If so, what steps can be made to better prepare employees for the workplace?