Recently, education has been experiencing a change over the last few years, as the United States is beginning to place significant importance on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education initiatives. Where is the push for STEM education initiatives coming from? Unfortunately, a substantial STEM-based job gap in the U.S workforce. Simply put, the U.S workforce just doesn’t have enough workers with the proper specialized training in STEM subjects to meet the needs of the jobs that are available. In fact, according to Randstad North America, by the end of 2016, the U.S had around 3 million more STEM jobs available, than the number of skilled workers it would take to fill the positions. As a result, each year the U.S government starts accepting applications via the H-1B program, which provides international highly-skilled workers with a temporary work Visa that allows them to work in “specialty occupations”. While this contributes to filling the gap, it’s no secret that to better improve our economy, we need a significant push in our own domestic STEM initiatives.
One of the best ways to meet our economic needs is with a drastic increase in STEM education programs. While outsourcing skilled individuals is a partial solution right now, even if we were to increase outsourcing, the long-term issues from a lack of domestic workers would not be solved.
How can this be done effectively?
In order to increase the interest in STEM education and future STEM careers, there needs to be an introduction to the specific subject areas at an early age. In many cases, STEM isn’t introduced as an option until high school age. By then, many students are already adapted to the traditional curriculum and have little to no interest in STEM or a future in the field. Once STEM is introduced into early education, it should be maintained throughout a students educational career. Many large organizations, such as alliantgroup, focus on creating scholarship initiatives to local students who are looking to continue their education and obtain a future career in the STEM sector.
Additionally, it isn’t uncommon for students to think they only have one path after they graduate high school; a four-year university. In order to promote STEM to the students in the U.S, we need to help them understand that there are multiple avenues they can take following their exit from high school. There are traditional universities, as well as more STEM-based schools, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or California Institue of Technology (CalTech), to mention a few. In other cases, where a four-year school may not be the first choice, trade schools and other tech-based programs should also be brought to students attention as a valuable option.
STEM education is not only important for the students of today, but it also plays an essential role in filling the job gap in the STEM field, and ultimately improving the overall economy.