“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old” – Peter Drucker
The acronym “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a relatively new term in the education. But STEM should not just be relegated to education, it is important to us all because we all are dependent upon technology and innovation globally.
This important to me because I get asked this question a lot as an educational consultant and STEM advocate. I am also an Engineer so it’s very dear to me. For me, it goes beyond just what happens in classroom. I look towards the future when I discuss education and what matters to our students. With that perspective it is clear to me that STEM Education is here to stay and is extremely relevant.
So let’s break it down.
1) There’s a shortage of STEM Job Professionals for a Rapidly increasing STEM Job Market.
There is huge gap between jobs that are in high demand and the skills required to fill them – and the gap is only going to get worse if we keep doing nothing to stem it (excuse the pun.)
Fast Company magazine states that in the next decade, 80% of professions will require a deep understanding of STEM skills. In spite of that, we have less and less students going above and beyond to excel at STEM skills. More than 50% of our students struggle to meet the basic standards in Mathematics and most students choose not to take electives or advanced courses to continue in STEM- related fields.
The result of these actions; Myriad of jobs that require a deep understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math have no one to fill them.
2) Innovation revitalizes our economy
We all see the technological boom happening around us and it’s sweeping all of us in it’s wave. There are constantly new gadgets being designed every minute it seems and it’s hard to keep up with the latest trends. Yet, these trends are essential for the economy; jobs are created and money flows in circulation. We need skilled STEM researchers to create the next successful antibiotic or cure for a disease. We need engineers and innovators to invent the next new phone or a computer that learns faster than humans. We also need those math-savvy folks to help us crunch lots of data, make sense of our economy, boost our finances, and enable us space travel!
3) Companies want to build their talent pool
Corporations need to top talent to stay competitive in their industries. It’s so vital that they employ those who will help them stay relevant now and in the future. This means that they need to have the best research and development teams, the best accountants, the best engineers, the best web and app developers, the best designers – you get the picture now?! They are now investing in STEM education programme all over the world to ensure that they bring up the next generation of innovators.
4) We need more Women STEM Professionals
According to Fortune Magazine, women only comprise a third of the workforce in the largest tech companies (like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.) and the gap widens as we move up the ladder toward leadership roles. The number of women with actual IT related roles is closer to 25% and only 17% of recent female grads are in IT related fields. Most agree that this gap exists because of the lack of opportunities available to girls to explore tech when they are younger. We know that this gap will narrow as more STEM education opportunities are made available to girls around the world – girl power!
5) STEM education produces other valuable and critical skills
It’s time to get to the nitty gritty of the immediate value to our students here and now of mastering STEM. The importance of these skills translates to them being future ready in whatever directions they decide their future should go. STEM Education encourages and bolsters future readiness. Students learn to problem solve as they research and follow processes for investigations. Whether it’s the Engineering Design Process, the Design-Thinking Process, or the Scientific Method, our students learn to collaborate with others; asking pertinent questions; assume leadership roles periodically; and try out lots of ideas to reach a solution.
We desire to help our students develop these soft skills and acquire these benefits.
Our children deserve to be future-ready now!
Tags: edtech, education, STEM education, STEM, STEM importance,
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Entrepreneur
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness.