The acronym “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a term used in the education world. However, STEM isn’t just a thing for your kids classroom, it has become important to everyone as we evolve into a more tech and innovation dependent world. I’m writing this article because it’s one of the most popular questions I get asked as an educator and consultant. The discourse around STEM seems to focus around the classroom, however it doesn’t just matter to your little ones – it matters to everyone. The more you understand about STEM Education, the more you will be able to make the right decisions with your child about their education.
1) There’s a STEM Job Crisis
There is currently a gap between the jobs that are in high demand and the skills required to fill them – and the gap is only going to grow if nothing is done about it. According to Fast Company, in the next decade 80% of professions will require a deep understanding of STEM skills. In the meantime, fewer and fewer students are going above and beyond to excel at STEM skills. 57% of students are struggling to meet the basic skills requirements in math and most students choose not to take electives or advanced courses that are required to continue on in a STEM-related field. So what’s the outcome of this current behavioral trend? There are plenty of jobs that require a deep understanding of science, technology, engineering, or math (or all of the above) and no one to fill it.
2) Innovation boosts the economy
We have all heard of the tech-boom currently happening and we can even see it happening right before our eyes. There’s a new gadget out every few hours and it’s hard to keep up with the trends. However, these trends help boost the economy, create jobs, and essentially keeps money in our pockets. We need skilled STEM experts to help develop the next successful antibiotic or cure for a disease. We need engineers and developers to create the next new phone or a computer that learns faster than a human. We also need those math-savvy folks to help us understand big data, make-sense of our economy, manage finances, and even help us get to Mars!
3) Companies want to build their talent pool
Companies need to have top talent to stay competitive in their industries. It’s so important that companies employ those who will help them stay relevant now and in the future. This means that they need to have the best research and development teams, the best accountants, the best engineers, the best web and app developers, the best designers – you see where I’m going, the best of the best everything! Companies are now investing in STEM education programs all over the globe in hopes that they will be able to nurture the next generation of innovators.
4) There is a gender gap that needs bridging
According to Fortune, women comprise about ⅓ of the workforce in the largest tech companies (like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.) and the gap only gets bigger as you move up the ladder toward leadership roles. The gap is also widened if you dive into these numbers a little. As shown by Deloitte, the number of women with actual IT related roles is closer to 25% and only 17% of recent female grads are in IT related fields. Most believe that this gap is related to the opportunities (or lack of opportunities) available to girls to explore tech when they are younger and the other side of this gap is due to gender biases. However, there is hope for women-in-tech and Deloitte predicts that this gap will slowly start to improve as more STEM education opportunities are available to girls around the world – girl power!
5) STEM education creates other really useful skills
Now that we talked about the more long-term importance of STEM education initiatives, let’s talk about the importance of these programs to your kids – right here, right now. Mastering STEM skills will also create those attributes and soft-skills that your kids need to develop for any future career that they may want to pursue. What you should keep in mind for this conversation is that the terms “STEM” and “21st Century skills” go hand-in-hand. During STEM programming, students are creating their own research questions and following a process that helps them learn to investigate multiple perspectives and connect ideas to solve a problem. Whether it’s the Engineering Design Process, the Design-Thinking Process, or the Scientific Method, your kids are going to be collaborating with others; asking important questions; taking leadership in their roles; and testing many ideas to reach a solution.
If you want to know more about how these soft skills and benefits are developed please visit one of our most popular articles: The Immediate Value of STEM Education. If you want to get your kids or students engaged with STEM education in a fun and effective way, please visit STEM Village to learn more and start a free trial today.
This article was written by Erin Carmody, an experienced educator, consultant, and Content Manager at STEM Village.