While many educators have seen the light the STEM education brings to students, now is not the time to get complacent about the message we need to send. The STEM courses that schools provide need to be designed to make students ready to move between every kind of technology fluidly, using devices and software to their advantage to problem solve, design and innovate as the world awaits their skill set to fill jobs that are out there right now.
This article describes some of the changes in productivity that have taken place thanks to advanced manufacturing techniques, and jobs that have gone overseas for low cost labor are starting to return to the US. While higher productivity means that fewer people are required to produce a given product, the STEM skills needed to run the machinery are in short supply. Directly related to this are the people needed to design, program and manufacture the machines that make these products, and so on down the labor chain.
It is estimated that there are 600,00 STEM related jobs that are unfilled at the moment due to the shortage in skilled workers. These numbers are projected to swell to twice that by 2015, just in time for today’s high school sophomores to enter the job market directly or pursue a degree. Make sure you drum these statistics into your students consciousness. Let them know that you are getting them ready for real jobs, with good pay and unlimited possibilities. You’ll know pretty quickly you are succeeding when the question that you love to hate, ’How am I going to use this in real life?’ fades to a distant memory.