In recent years, the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education has been stated regularly, but the significance of the field remains hugely vital to the coming future. Not only can STEM knowledge give workers and students valuable experience and information, but the disciplines can provide people with a deeper understanding of the world at large, creating new ways to innovate and discover solutions to worldwide problems.
According to the Dallas Morning News, STEM will only become more important in the near future. Workforce experts have predicted that more than eight million new STEM jobs will be available in the United States through 2018. It's also expected that many of these jobs will be difficult to fill as they will likely have highly specialized skills necessary to perform them, which bodes well if education efforts remain as high as possible.
What's more, STEM is becoming increasingly intertwined across the globe as new technology continues to transform job roles in an increasing number of industries. The National Science Foundation has said that more jobs in the near future that aren't normally considered to be related to STEM will require new science and engineering skills. These fields can include anything from aerial robotics to 3D printing. This only further shows not only the importance but the long-term effects that experience in these fields will have, further proving the importance of early and detailed knowledge.
This information is made all the more important in the light of recent educational efforts working to fight back against lower-than-hoped STEM knowledge. The Huffington Post, in connection with CISCO, recently found that United States test scores regarding STEM fields are lower than expected, and falling instead of rising. The Programme for International Student Assessment scores, which measures 15-year-olds' skills in science, reading and math, found that United States scores have remained relatively stagnant in all three fields. Specifically, the country currently ranks 28th in the world in science, while it has fallen to 36th place in math skills.
To revamp students' skills and interests in STEM, a variety of different strategies are being deployed. For instance, schools in Dallas are quickly adapting to the times, with one high school introducing an Academy of Engineering to its different opportunities. Other efforts, according to The Hill, include showing students opportunities and building up standards commonly called the "Common Core." By doing this, and investing in future STEM growth, The Hill says that it would be easy to see returns, as such investments would create both economic value and societal value. Businesses that make investments not only would see new pipelines of talent to fill critical jobs, but could also help societal knowledge by sponsoring new research and equipment means.
Department of Commerce figures only revitalize the importance of STEM. Through 2018, STEM occupations are expected to see their employment opportunities grow by about 17 percent, in contrast to non-STEM prospects, which would only rise by less than 10 percent in that time. What's more, in STEM fields, there are about 1.9 positions made available for every unemployed person - comparatively, non-STEM fields see one job available for every four or so people on the market. STEM investments will likely help reduce the unemployment rate further.
The importance of STEM education was highlighted at the BEYA conference February 6-8 in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Aerotek, the BEYA conference did not only award STEM leaders for their achievements in their fields, but enabled professionals and students alike to network, learn and train themselves for a successful STEM career.