The skills gap issue in today’s digital economy is reaching “crisis” levels and companies are feeling the brunt. The global economy is expected to have a shortfall of 85 million skilled jobs by 2020, mostly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). 80% of professions are expected to require STEM skills in the next decade, and yet less than half of students are graduating high school with the prerequisite STEM courses.
There are currently 560,000 open computing jobs in the U.S., while only 43,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce last year. The World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. 44th in quality of math and science education and Canada has fallen to 18th.
The scale of the STEM crisis has grown far beyond the resources and capabilities of government and the school boards alone. Much like climate change, STEM education now requires “all hands on deck”, with the corporate world driving much of the systemic change required. U.S. corporations are now investing $350 billion annually in education (mostly STEM), more than 100X the scale of Obama’s unprecedented $3 Billion STEM initiative.
Companies from all sectors have now made STEM education for 21st century jobs their #1 corporate citizenship initiative. Some of the big names leading the charge include: AT&T, IBM, JP Morgan, SAP, Chevron, Ford, Intel, Google, Boeing, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Target, Facebook and dozens more each year.
Corporate executives are looking for both short-term and long-term return on their STEM investments. The immediate need is to expand the talent pipeline to fill the technical and analytical positions in their companies with ever-widening skill gaps. The longer term objective is to be part of the broader North American solution to keep pace globally and to help drive a vibrant economy for all.
As quoted in Fast Company’s article titled “How Corporations are Helping to Solve the Education Crisis”, the authors predicted “We expect to see many more companies invest deeply in education, not simply as a cause du jour, but as a means of innovation and marketplace survival.”
This article was written by Doug Walker, Co-Founder of STEM Village, an innovative new online education and guidance solution for careers of the 21st century.