By 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that jobs requiring skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) will grow by 17%, nearly twice the rate of non-STEM jobs. However, on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to students worldwide, the U.S. ranked 23rd in science and 30th in math.
The Jobs of the Future
STEM jobs, according to the Department of Commerce, are “the jobs of the future,” with across-the-board better pay and lower unemployment.
They can also be a lot of fun – but don’t take our word for it! We contacted chemists and STEM professionals from a variety of industries to ask them why they love their jobs. Check out their responses and learn more about the wide variety of careers in STEM fields. Candy Chemist Sarah Houle put it succinctly when she told us: “My job is never dull and is constantly challenging me.”
The “STEM Gap”
The U.S. economy is increasingly driven by technological innovation, but even today, companies are struggling to find skilled workers for STEM jobs. By 2018, an estimated 1.2 million STEM jobs will go unfilled, and the number of STEM degrees granted by U.S. Universities has declined since the 1970s.
Young students love science activities, but by the time they graduate from high school, only 16% are even considering a STEM major. Some of this comes down to resources – Elementary educators struggle to fit science education into a school week jam-packed with preparation for standardized testing in other subjects. A National Science Foundation report in 2013 found that, in a typical elementary school classroom, students spend more time on reading than on math and science combined. Science equipment can be prohibitively expensive for school districts. And since many elementary educators don’t hold degrees in STEM subjects, their confidence about teaching hands-on science lessons in the classroom can be shaky.
Fixing the “STEM Gap”
At CEF, we believe that fixing the STEM employment gap and the lag in U.S. global performance in math and science starts with early science education – supporting educators, supplying lesson plans, and engaging elementary and middle school students in competition to spark their interest in science before they reach high school. Our You Be The Chemist® programs are free for teachers, schools, and families, and enrich science education both inside and outside of the classroom.
Why Invest in STEM?
If you represent a company that relies on skilled STEM professionals, we’re challenging you to partner with us in our efforts to bring free, hands-on STEM education to students nationwide. Please consider contacting our staff to discuss sponsorship opportunities, openings for employee volunteers, and corporate contributions.