The US Department of Commerce reports that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) occupations are growing at 17 percent, while other occupations are growing at 9.8 percent.
That’s good news for the nation and students pursuing these educational programs. STEM degree holders earn more than other workers, and they are the innovators who play a key role in growth of the US economy.
As an information-based economy, it is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. Yet, at the same time US students’ mathematics and science scores on average are lagging behind those in other developing countries.
American teenagers’ math scores on an international test have dropped, putting the US in the bottom half among dozens of participating countries.
More than 500,000 students from 70 countries participated in a two-hour test in 2015. Students received a combination of questions drawn from 103 items in reading, 184 in science, 81 in math, 117 in collaborative problem-solving and 43 in financial literacy.
American students’ math scores were lower in 2015 than they were in 2012 or 2009, and they were below the average among students in other wealthy nations, such as Canada, Japan and Ireland.
Pew Research Center surveyed Americans to understand why more students don’t pursue a degree in STEM. About half of adults (52 percent) said they think these subjects are too hard. Other opinions? STEM education is not pertinent to career aspirations, or it’s too boring.
What’s to be done? Many local nonprofits are helping grade- and high-school students understand what they can do with STEM information, helping them apply this information, and inspiring kids to pursue STEM in college. Liberty Bank Foundation is proud to support programs that encourage students to prepare for the technological future.
Here are some interesting facts about the STEM workforce from Pew Research.