STEM is a term that is used often in education and stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But what exactly is STEM? Well, let’s put it this way. If STEM were a product sold at a store, America would not have enough of it to meet the current and future demands of its customers. The customers for this product are the businesses that need it to succeed in the 21st century global economy. If a business cannot find enough STEM workers in their local economy, then they will have to look elsewhere for the talent. STEM is the basic form of energy that powers the innovation and technology that today’s companies need to be competitive.
As a young student, I remember the joy I felt when getting a good grade and the confidence I had when graduating high school. I was prepared to enter college and prepared to enter the workforce. I could compete for the jobs available at that time. Now, we are 17 years into the 21st century, and the economy has changed. American students are faced with the prospect of graduating high school without being able to compete in the global job market. Graduating high school, but still lacking competitive STEM skills, is a reality for many students across the country. When a student invests in education, they are banking on a return for their efforts. Viewing a student’s education as an investment raises the question of whether the return on investment will be worth it. For example, if you invest four years into a college education for a career that you end up only spending four years doing, was it a good investment? Today’s millennials are changing careers much more frequently than past generations, every three to four years, rather than twenty to thirty. Today’s students will need to focus on the long-term return vs. the short-term gain of a degree. They will want to gain skills that can transition through multiple career paths and invest in lifelong learning.