Stem the Rot in STEM Education | DCR Workforce Blog

Stem the Rot in STEM Education

As the only country in the world to have put a man on the moon, America has built for itself a redoubtable reputation for its innovative use of science, technology and engineering to challenge the status quo of human life. Today’s America is far cry from those days of supremacy, with more and more Americans veering away from science education, and almost half the students of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses in American universities being of foreign origin. This situation is causing alarm to the business and industry leaders, policy makers, educators and other stakeholders.

Many of the jobs which remain unfilled and figure prominently in unemployment statistics today are found to be, for the most part, jobs which require an educational background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There is an acute shortage of qualified workers with adequate degrees, training, skills and experience to meet the needs of the industry. The manufacturing industry in America is just an example of how companies are really facing an acute shortage of workers in STEM fields in spite of the higher-than-normal pay.

This situation needs to be immediately addressed if America is to regain lost ground and re-claim the status it has lost.

At the Academic level:

  • Vertically align STEM education from Pre-K to P-12 and beyond to P-16 or P-20,
  • Revise the STEM curriculum to support the essential knowledge and skills needed to rebuild our technology base,
  • Increase opportunities for students to design and conduct experiments, analyze and interpret data and participate in multi-disciplinary teams,
  • Formulate effective assessment parameters for student performance at the national level,
  • Ensure the availability of effective teachers in adequate numbers, who are certified on best practices in teaching and learning STEM subjects.

On the Industry front:

  • Invite companies to participate in curriculum development,
  • Create effective campus recruiting partnerships and programs,
  • Increase the availability of internships and work-study programs, linking them to credits,
  • Invite industries to set up scholarships programs to incentivize the students to take up courses which meet their specific needs,
  • Encourage corporate mentor programs for students, to prepare them for the workplace.

Government should also contribute.  In the 1960s, President Kennedy challenged his country to be the first to put a man on the moon.  He then followed up on this challenge with NSA grants and scholarships to encourage students to pursue a STEM career.  Companies received financial compensation for creating technical positions.  To reinforce his commitment, the government launched an extensive promotional campaign to continue to encourage people to pursue these career paths.

To quote President Obama: “Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been.” Being dependent on workers from other countries to fulfill the industry’ need for talented workers may prove counter-productive in the long run.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.