Forecasting the Future Demand for STEM Skills
STEM The American economy is at a crossroads. With changes in technology and employability outpacing our educational institutions, we had better catch up.
Smart phones, personal drones, self-driving cars, curved televisions—none of these technologies were on the market ten years ago.
We can only guess at what sort of tools and skills we will need for future technologies. As much as we gain from new innovations, the advent of new technologies also brings about new types of jobs and workforce needs, all of which require skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.
"Statistics tell us there are almost two STEM jobs per potential unemployed hire."
Today’s manufacturing sector is the not the old Ford Model-T assembly line people used to think of. Instead, modern manufacturers must be computer-literate and able to deal with highly specialized machines and tools that require advanced skills. This holds true for all STEM fields. Medical research, mechanical engineering, computer sciences and other fields all feed off of emerging innovations students must be prepared to utilize in order to succeed in future job markets.
Half of all STEM jobs don’t require a traditional undergraduate education, and pay an average of 10 percent higher than non-STEM jobs. Likewise, statistics tell us there are almost two STEM jobs per potential unemployed hire. A student can be educated with little-to-no-debt from student loans, earn more than their collegiate peers and choose from diverse job paths—if they take advantage of the opportunities that career and technical education offers.
Internships and apprenticeships have provided a good starting point for students to learn on-site. Informal education such as afterschool programs, robotics clubs, science centers and museums can also provide students with a platform to become invested and learn essential concepts and ideas.
At the same time, deeper integration of modern skills such as coding or engineering principles in the classroom are necessary if we want an American workforce that can compete globally. Policy makers, educators, community leaders and the private sector must work in-step to properly educate upcoming generations.