The need for employees with STEM qualifications and skills is heightened in today's technology driven era. Even with rising unemployment, there are a large number of jobs going unfilled which require Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education background. This is owing to the barriers in the successful implementation of STEM education.
Technological innovation has been the driving force of economic growth not only in the United States, but also in many parts around the world. Studies have shown that more than half of the economic growth over the past fifty years in the United States can be attributed to improved productivity resulting from innovation. The last decade has seen great improvements in various areas of science and information technology. These innovations have completely changed the way people live and work.
As the world moves rapidly towards a global economy where technology is diffused across industries and occupations, demand for STEM skills has gone up in the job market. As the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology, STEM related jobs are going to open up more, hence, driving up the demand for STEM qualifications and skills.
The slump in the global economy has seen unemployment go up. But, even with high unemployment rates, there are a sizable number of jobs that are going unfilled. And, the common denominator here is that all these jobs require some kind of background in STEM. There is a growing concern regarding the many barriers in STEM education that is creating a shortage in the number of qualified STEM workers.
Given below are some of the challenges to be overcome in seeing a steady stream of graduates equipped with STEM knowledge and abilities.
Shortage of qualified teachers
In order to ensure that students have a thorough understanding of the subjects, it is crucial for schools to employ good quality teachers. A lack of teacher preparation leads to under-prepared students as they receive low quality education and training. Many teachers decided no longer to teach the subjects as they lacked proper professional support. As teacher turnover takes a long time, they need to undergo a great deal of professional development and the new teachers should be educated to become specialists in STEM in order to synergize the efforts of two or more subject specialists.
Lack of inspiration among students
The loss of interest in STEM related subjects happens even before high school. Grade school students experience great difficulties in STEM subjects as they lack a solid foundation in basic skills like algebra. Most students who end up taking STEM courses in college make the decision to do so in high school or even before that. Majority of the students feel that their education before college was not sufficient enough to prepare them well for STEM majors in college.
Lack of research collaboration
STEM contains multiple disciplines, which requires a steady collaboration among STEM educators and researchers of the various disciplines. However, this key factor is lacking in the STEM community, which has resulted in poor skill development and a lack of sense of direction and purpose for effective learning. Since a career in STEM is an integration of multiple disciplines, teaching and learning requires collaboration among researchers. This enables them to share their knowledge, learn from each other, devise ways to tap into each other's resourcefulness.
Many educational institutions like Florida Institute of Technology, offer graduate programs in the different disciplines of STEM. As the STEM related jobs are slated to see an enormous increase in the future, it is imperative that students take a keen interest in STEM education to increase their chances of landing a job after school.
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