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How STEM Transitions Students Into the Workforce

Over the last decade, America has expressed its value in the STEM workforce, adding a massive 2 million jobs to the market. To be clear, STEM is an acronym collectivizing the school subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Today, American high school graduates are among the first in history to have completed an entire education with a focus on STEM studies. In the grand scheme of things, the learning program is fairly new, having been developed in 2001 at the National Science Foundation by Judith Ramaley. Upon development and implementation, STEM-focused curricula have extended around the globe.

Luckily, students are enjoying the content. Currently, 86% of high school graduates plan to pursue a career in the STEM field, and 3 in 4 college graduates majored in a STEM-focused program in 2018.

However, many positions in the market – 2.4 million to be exact – still went unfilled in 2018. Is STEM learning working?

Most Americans say yes. Statistically, 86% of Americans believe that increasing STEM-trained workers is the key to maintaining our country’s rank in the global economy. Saying this, our future lies in the hands of our youth mastering subject matters regarding science, technology, engineering, and math.

The Chief Spokesman for Intel, Howard High, spoke on the topic, saying, “We go where the smart people are. Now our business operations are two-thirds in the U.S. and one-third overseas. But that ratio will flip over the next 10 years.”

Furthermore, civilians aren’t the only die-hard supporters of the curricula. The government has always supported the learning track, as well.

In 2007, the America COMPETES Act went into place – increasing the budget for STEM education and research programs within public schools. In fact, most of this funding was allocated toward NSF scholarships for STEM teachers. 

It has never been more apparent that we need to compete better in the global marketplace, and the good news is that we are making strides toward that goal.

In more recent times, the Every Student Succeeds Act – also known as the ESSA – increased funding for K-12 STEM. The ESSA budget was dedicated to professional development and teaching materials, specialty schools and magnet programs, activities, after-school programs, and field trips.

Furthermore, the ESSA established the STEM Master Teacher Corps, and made computer science a core subject in K-12 public schooling.

These programs are making a difference, but it has taken years for that to become apparent. Test scores are slowly improving, but the real success is that more students are choosing these fields when they are in college, which will further increase our standing in the global economy moving forward.

As available technology enhances, STEM curricula will too. Students are already showing improvement in their international standing, raising their math and science test scores throughout recent years. It will take time to bridge the gap, but we’re already on our way. Still, 74% of employers report rising challenges in finding qualified talent.

Is STEM working? Find out below.