How Schools Can Prepare Students for the STEM Workforce

Vol. 17 No. 6

PSN eletter vol15 no9 STEM

Jobs in STEM occupations—science, technology, engineering, and math—are on the rise. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of STEM occupations has grown from 9.7 million to 17.3 million since 1990. This 79% increase outpaces overall U.S. job growth. Specifically, computer-focused jobs have grown 338% over the same period. And these occupations are projected to continue growing at a fast rate.

There are good reasons students may want to pursue a career in STEM. According to Pew, STEM workers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree earn an average of 26% more annually versus their similarly educated counterparts working in other industries. And women make up roughly 50% of all U.S. STEM workers, although their presence varies greatly in different positions within the STEM spectrum.

It’s easy to see why schools want to prepare their students for successful STEM careers. The good news is that many Americans today report liking math and science classes during their K–12 education. Three-quarters report enjoying science classes, citing labs and activities, and six in 10 enjoyed math classes, according to Pew.

So, how do schools continue to encourage a passion for STEM topics, helping students prepare for the job market they will face once they matriculate? In addition to focusing on math and science topics, computer science is an increasingly necessary skill for students to hone.

Gallup and Google teamed up to better understand perceptions of computer science and access to computer science learning opportunities in K–12 schools in the U.S. The vast majority of parents (84%) and most teachers (71%) and principals (66%) say that offering computer science is more important than—or just as important as—courses like math, science, history, and English.

Many schools offer computer science classes, clubs, and activities. But those who do not cite lack of teachers with the necessary skills to teach the subjects effectively, according to the study. They also cite competing priorities and scheduling concerns.

Faculty and staff must be properly trained in the STEM areas where many students will eventually work. As a school leader, it’s important to help provide faculty with the tools they need to help students succeed. This includes time for STEM activities during classroom instruction and training on the latest technological developments.

STEM-based occupations are projected to continue rising. Preparing students to excel in these occupations is vital. Ensure that STEM-focused classes and activities are a core focus for your school to prepare students for future success.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Private School News Vol. 17 No. 4 These Jobs Are on the Rise in the U.S.—Will Your Students Be Prepared?
The Source for Private School News Vol. 13 No. 9 “Show Me the Money”—What Impacts Students’ Future Earning Potential?

Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 39 No. 16 Establishing Student Achievement Levels
I&P Vol. 36 No. 9 The 21st Century School: Fairness, Competitiveness, and High Performance

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