ASQ Influential Voices Contribution: STEM Education Not So Fun?

In his March 9 A View from the Q blog post, titled Encourage the Next Generation of STEM Professionals, ASQ CEO, Bill Troy indicates: “Businesses can play an important role in helping to encourage the next generation of STEM professionals.”  This month, ASQ CEO Bill Troy challenges the ASQ Influential Voices bloggers to “step up to the plate” with regard to encouraging students to pursue a STEM education.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. A STEM-related program in education prepares students for professions in these important fields. Why the emphasis on STEM? According to sources the U.S. has a shortage of STEM skills and many STEM-related jobs go unfilled. 

These sources add that...
wages have grown relatively fast in most STEM-oriented occupations, which is a clear indication of a shortage. From 2000 to 2013, analyzing Bureau of Labor Statistics data and adjusting for inflation, median salaries for workers in computer and mathematical, health care practitioner, engineering, and science occupations rose 8 percent, 7 percent, 6 percent and 5 percent respectively, even as those for the average U.S. worker showed no growth.

This rise in STEM-related salaries underscore the role of the free market with regard to this shortage of STEM educated graduates. Salaries are increasing which should work to encourage more students to seek a STEM education. This, however, may not be enough to attract today’s students to gain a STEM education. 

A STEM education may not be fun enough for today’s students. 

According to The Princeton Review, the top 10 college majors are 1) Business Administration, 2) Psychology, 3) Nursing, 4) Biology/Biological Science, 5) Education, 6) English/Literature, 7) Economics, 8) Communications, 9) Political Science, and 10) Computer and Information Sciences. The Princeton Review warns “…that these are not necessarily the degrees that garner the most demand in the job market.” Note that only one of these top 10 majors is purely STEM-related.

What can quality professionals do to advance the STEM agenda? Those who advocate for STEM have done so by organizing STEM conferences and writing STEM-related books and articles. More could and should be done to advance the STEM agenda. If you are a parent who is so inclined, I would encourage you to expose your young, school-age children to extracurricular activities such as Science Olympia, Odyssey of the Mind, and Math Counts. Don’t have young, school-age children?  You can volunteer to judge a local event or to help coach students at your local school.  Exposing our youth to these activities could help them see that science and math can be fun.

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