Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Camp Fire, Girl Scouts, and a host of other afterschool (and out-of-school) mentoring programs of all sizes have developed or are developing STEM curricula for various ages.  If mentoring programs wish to add STEM curriculum even into a summer camp, one resource is Cedric Currin-Moore.
Cedric E. Currin-Moore
(OKAN)STEM Project Coordinator
Oklahoma Afterschool Network

Introducing STEM through age-appropriate activities at the earliest ages for both male and female children will help youths as well as local, state and national economies.  STEM learning should continue progressively through middle and high schools and perhaps into postsecondary to equip youth with enhanced skills to adapt to rapidly changing work environments.

Reading through the report below shows that the classification of STEM is much broader than many may have thought, and postsecondary certificates or degrees from community colleges and technical schools are also valuable. 

"The Hidden STEM Economy"
by Jonathan Rothwell
Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings
June 10, 2013

Workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields play a direct role in driving economic growth. Yet, because of how the STEM economy has been defined, policymakers have mainly focused on supporting workers with at least a bachelor’s (BA) degree, overlooking a strong potential workforce of those with less than a BA. An analysis of the occupational requirements for STEM knowledge finds that:
  • As of 2011, 26 million U.S. jobs—20 percent of all jobs—require a high level of knowledge in any one STEM field. STEM jobs have doubled as a share of all jobs since the Industrial Revolution, from less than 10 percent in 1850 to 20 percent in 2010.
  • Half of all STEM jobs are available to workers without a four-year college degree, and these jobs pay $53,000 on average—a wage 10 percent higher than jobs with similar educational requirements. Half of all STEM jobs are in manufacturing, health care, or construction industries. Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations constitute 12 percent of all STEM jobs, one of the largest occupational categories. Other blue-collar or technical jobs in fields such as construction and production also frequently demand STEM knowledge.

  • STEM jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree are highly clustered in certain metropolitan areas, while sub-bachelor’s STEM jobs are prevalent in every large metropolitan area. Of large metro areas, San Jose, CA, and Washington, D.C., have the most STEM-based economies, but Baton Rouge, LA, Birmingham, AL, and Wichita, KS, have among the largest share of STEM jobs in fields that do not require four-year college degrees. These sub-bachelor’s STEM jobs pay relatively high wages in every large metropolitan area.

  • More STEM-oriented metropolitan economies perform strongly on a wide variety of economic indicators, from innovation to employment. Job growth, employment rates, patenting, wages, and exports are all higher in more STEM-based economies. The presence of sub-bachelor’s degree STEM workers helps boost innovation measures one-fourth to one-half as much as bachelor’s degree STEM workers, holding other factors constant. Concentrations of these jobs are also associated with less income inequality.

This report presents a new and more rigorous way to define STEM occupations, and in doing so presents a new portrait of the STEM economy. Of the $4.3 billion spent annually by the federal government on STEM education and training, only one-fifth goes towards supporting sub-bachelor’s level training, while twice as much supports bachelor’s or higher level-STEM careers. The vast majority of National Science Foundation spending ignores community colleges. In fact, STEM knowledge offers attractive wage and job opportunities to many workers with a post-secondary certificate or associate’s degree. Policy makers and leaders can do more to foster a broader absorption of STEM knowledge to the U.S workforce and its regional economies."

[The useful and informative discussion of the above findings along with graphs and charts should not be missed, but because this is a "short" blog, note the infographic below followed by the conclusion.]


The above discussion makes it clear that the excessively professional definition of STEM jobs has led to missed opportunities to identify and support valuable training and career development at the federal level and weakened coordination between workforce development and education at the state and local levels.

Largely through the NSF, the federal government is funding a large number of programs to boost higher-level STEM education, particularly for minorities and women. Many appear to be effective, and the next rounds of funding should clarify what works and what does not. Yet, only a small slice of federal educational spending supports the other half of STEM careers—those requiring an associate’s degree or less.

The overemphasis on four-year and higher degrees as the only route to a STEM career has neglected cheaper and more widely available pathways through community colleges and even technical high schools. This neglect is all the more nonsensical given that roughly half of students who earn four-year STEM degrees start their education at community colleges. [79] While the federal government should strengthen its support of these efforts, the primary responsibility for funding and administrative support will fall to the state and local governments who benefit the most directly from a STEM-knowledgeable workforce.

It is difficult to argue, given all the attention it has received, that STEM knowledge is underappreciated. Yet, because the focus has been on professional STEM jobs, a number of potentially useful interventions have been ignored. In this sense, jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree represent a hidden and unheralded STEM economy"

Thanks to Ray Shaik, Founder & CEO, TechJOYnT, for forwarding this report link.

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