What are the top challenges facing our nation when it comes to the STEM-worker shortage?

The National Association of Manufacturing and Deloitte predicts the United States will need to fill about 3.5 million jobs by 2025. As many as 2 million of those jobs may go unfilled. Having lots of jobs is great, but not having enough people trained to solve big problems is actually a huge issue for the economy and for the country. Emerson’s fourth annual STEM survey found 2 out of 5 Americans believe the STEM-worker shortage is at crisis levels.

How can we fill the STEM-worker shortage?

It comes down to education and awareness. STEM education is hard — I'm not going to pretend it isn't. But we've got to make it clear that this isn't just about getting a good job, it's about having a toolkit that helps you see the world differently and be a part of some of the most important work being done in the world today.

Why is it important to continue investing in STEM education?

I think sometimes we only see a pretty narrow view of what a STEM job is, but from fashion to food to manufacturing, STEM is powering the future of every industry. Getting kids interested early is key. Cultivating that interest throughout their educational journey helps reinforce the incredible things they can achieve through STEM. 

How can parents keep their kids engaged in STEM subjects?

Like anything in our lives, investing our time is the most important thing. Kids are curious, but if they see us shut down when we don't know the answer to a question, they're going to notice. Every time a kid asks us a question we don't know the answer to, the first instinct is frustration. But something as simple as saying, "I don't know, let's find out together" can show kids how much joy there is in learning. 

Emerson’s recent survey found only 1 in 3 adults believe teachers have the resources they need to provide a quality STEM education. Some organizations, like Girls Who Code or Emerson through its “We Love STEM” campaign, are stepping up to fill the gaps, but we have to give teachers the tools they need.