Earlier this year I eagerly shared my beliefs regarding the importance of engaging students earlier in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) studies. Subsequently, I found myself increasingly curious about the global awareness, coverage and impact of a STEM education.
This topic is a particular passion of mine – since technological innovation and growth is the foundation for advances in healthcare, transportation, infrastructure, climate change and so much more. Aside from potential worldwide recognition for groundbreaking progress in any of the aforementioned fields, the salary gap between STEM and non-STEM graduates further underscores the necessity, yet shortage, of key skills. The math is simple – STEM pay is higher.
The 2016 graphic above, from Priceonomics paints a rosy picture for recent college graduates who have pursued studies in STEM specialties. But, are there sufficient programs and are students participating?
Immediately north of New York City in Westchester County, among the highest-income counties in the U.S., schools and businesses are collaborating to prepare for the 21st-century workforce. As reported in “Embracing STEM,” a recent 914INC. Magazine piece, “Across the region, local schools and nonprofits are increasingly investing in STEM-oriented curricula and training, with the goal of creating science-savvy, career-ready graduates. And they’re not alone: Local industry is investing in STEM, too, training residents and employees with the goal of shaping a capable, cutting-edge workforce.”
Almost 500 miles south of N.Y.C., in West Virginia’s Doddridge County (listed among the lower-income counties in the U.S.) the focus on STEM is comparable. Their annual report announced a partnership with West Virginia University to increase student exposure to and performance in STEM disciplines. Locally, the schools have been relating and applying STEM principles to an array of subjects ranging from livestock quality assurance training to robotics and rocketry.
Outside the United States, STEM’s indispensable skill set continues to be coveted as well. In the United Kingdom, young men and women entering university opting for STEM studies have the choicest career prospects. As reported by Britain’s Independent, of the top 10 degrees subjects to study for the highest paying jobs, 7 of them were STEM related, with the top two being engineering. Salaries notwithstanding, the lack of STEM graduates may easily affect the UK’s ability to compete globally. The graphic below, from a teacher led STEM challenge in the UK, crisply illustrates the issue.
Of course, in the current information-based and deeply technological society in which we live the STEM skill set is a valuable asset to expand growth and prosperity. And if higher salary is an incentive, so be it.
As the 914INC. Magazine article succinctly summarized: “Ask a handful of local high-school or college students what career advice they hear most, and they’ll likely cite this refrain: ‘Want a good job? Study STEM!’”