The U.S. is facing a national STEM crisis, fueled by a combination of an under-resourced STEM education system, a declining interest in STEM subjects among students, and a rapidly increasing global demand for a workforce highly skilled in STEM fields. The future of our national security and economic well-being is dependent on solving this crisis.
To highlight a few statistics:
- 60 percent of U.S. employers are having difficulties finding qualified workers to fill vacancies at their companies. (Council on Foreign Relations)
- STEM occupations will grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations over the period from 2008 – 2018. (US Office of Science and Technology and Policy)
- In the current overall employment market, unemployed people outnumber job postings 3.6 to one. In the STEM occupations, job postings outnumber unemployed people by 1.9 to one.
The situation is especially acute in New Jersey:
- By 2018, New Jersey will rank #12 in the nation for the number of STEM or STEM-related jobs and have 269,000 STEM jobs that will need to be filled.
- There are 1.4 available STEM jobs for every unemployed person in New Jersey.
- There are more than 6 million high school students in New Jersey, but only 1.6 million of them are interested in pursuing a STEM career.
- Less than 15% of female students and less than 27.5% of Black and Latino students are interested in pursuing a STEM career.
(Source: U.S. Innovation and Change Equation)
are dramatically under-resourced,
particularly in communities of poverty.
Recent research shows that STEM education must start very early, as soon as children enter elementary school, to have a significant impact on their interests and subsequent education and career choices. In the current educational system, STEM education is often under-resourced or not considered a priority. “Research documents that by the time students reach fourth grade, a third of boys and girls have lost interest in science. By eighth grade, almost 50 percent have lost interest or deemed it irrelevant to their education or future plans...That means millions of students have tuned out or lack the confidence to believe they can do science.”
(Anthony Murphy, STEM Education–It’s Elementary, U.S. News, 2011)
According to the National Science Board, test scores for U.S. students in STEM subjects drop rapidly after 8th grade. By the end of 12th grade, our students’ proficiency in STEM subjects is below the average of other industrialized nations.
Advocate for STEM Education for Vulnerable Populations
Vulnerable populations, including underserved groups (e.g. African American and Latino communities) and women, are especially underrepresented in our STEM workforce. Without their voices and participation in STEM fields, creating solutions becomes less achievable and less informed.
According to National Science Board’s Science & Engineering Indicators 2016 report:
- In 2013, women constituted only 29% of workers in STEM occupations, although they accounted for half of the college-educated workforce overall.
- African Americans and Hispanics accounted for only 11% of the science and engineering occupations, a far smaller proportion than their share of the general population, which is about 27%.
At S2S, while we strive to serve all students through our STEM education programs, one of our primary goals is to target underserved groups and female students. Students from disadvantaged communities currently comprise approximately 65% of our constituents and we are continuously striving to find new and more effective ways to reach more underserved groups and female students.
The health of our economy is dependent on a high skilled workforce. S2S is committed to championing a culture where science is celebrated and where young people are entitled to enter the workplace armed with relevant expertise. S2S programs are meeting the needs of the public and private sectors by inspiring, motivating and educating students and teachers in elementary, middle and high schools across the United States. Our future as a successful society necessitates bringing more students to science (or S2S as the case may be).