There is a crisis in the American workforce: the American dream is slipping away from the next generation of workers. Not enough potential employees have the critical thinking, problem-solving, planning and execution skills needed for the 21st century workforce.
- These skills are learned in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or “STEM”) studies, making STEM education critically important to Indiana’s future.
- The critical thinking and problem-solving skills learned through STEM subjects are essential for any job, career or profession, from plumbing to retail to music.
- All students should have equal access to quality STEM curricula, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
A focus on STEM education can help restore access to the American dream of high quality employment with good wages and benefits. This is not just about producing more scientists and engineers. This is about preparing all Indiana residents – particularly our children – with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful, productive participants in the 21st century American economy. This is about building healthy communities with more jobs, good schools, and less crime.
The time for Indiana to act is now. Indiana cannot afford to wait another day to build this road to success for all Hoosiers.
In the US:
- A Bayer survey reported that 59% of businesses are losing productivity because of a lack of these STEM skills in their workforce.
- There are currently 1.9 STEM job openings for every qualified STEM applicant, according to the national organization Change the Equation.
- Only 45 percent of U.S. high school graduates in 2011 were ready for college level work in math; only 30 percent were ready in science.
- US students rank 36th among developed countries in the average Math, Reading and Science scores and are at or below the average scores of the 65 OECD countries participating in the 2012 PISA test.
- Over 40% of college-bound high school graduates need remediation in math, costing Indiana as much as $35M each year.
- Schools in Indiana have a shortage of qualified teachers and materials for STEM classes, and have reduced the time spent on science each week since 2008.
- In Indiana there are currently 2.4 STEM job openings for every qualified STEM applicant.
- Indiana is forecast to have nearly 120,000 openings for STEM jobs in 2018, and 60,000 of those jobs require post-secondary education less than a four year degree. But graduation rates from post-secondary certificate and degree programs will likely fall well-short of meeting this demand.
A path to a quality of life for all Hoosiers is paved with basic critical-thinking and problem-solving skills offered through quality STEM education. STEM education across Indiana today lacks organization and has uneven quality and availability. It falls short of the kind of STEM education Indiana needs to remain competitive. Our neighboring states in the Midwest have not stood still. In fact, states like Iowa, Ohio and Tennessee are already well ahead of Indiana in implementing statewide STEM education. To be competitive tomorrow, Indiana must commit to fill the STEM education pipeline today.