There continues to be growing concern that today’s students are not leaving school prepared to take on higher education STEM programs or to enter the STEM workforce. Many students lack a basic understanding of STEM subjects that is required in most industries today. This has a negative impact on students’ ability to succeed in an increasingly competitive workforce and also affects business’ ability to fill jobs.
The Demand for STEM Qualified Talent is Rising at a Significant Rate
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that jobs in STEM will grow 17 percent by 2018 – nearly double the growth for non-STEM fields. This demand will lead to a surplus of career opportunities for individuals, because not enough students are pursuing STEM careers. It is estimated that by 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs due to a lack of qualified workers to fill them. Currently there are not enough students following the path to a STEM career to meet the economy’s needs.
Helping Students Succeed in STEM is Vital to Our Economy
There is a need to create a pipeline of STEM-capable workers to fill these positions and spur economic growth. A lack of STEM talent is a risk to the economy, because without the right talent, business will suffer.
To fill this pipeline, we must strengthen our cradle-to-career efforts around workforce development and career readiness. We must reach students early on and engage them in STEM to help them understand that these subjects can open doors to endless career opportunities.
Doing this will create a pipeline of science literate individuals with the necessary critical thinking and problem solving skills. These individuals will be equipped with an understanding of STEM and also the importance of communication, collaboration and teamwork.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, and we must prepare these students to find future success. Challenger Center has led this mission for years, having pioneered dynamic and engaging STEM education with our immersive, hands-on learning through space-themed simulations. Now, 30 years after the organization was created, Challenger Center’s work continues, and our mission is more important than ever before.