“A STEM education is a pathway to prosperity – not just for you as an individual but for America as a whole…We need you in our classrooms, labs and key government agencies to help solve our biggest challenges, and that’s why we are investing heavily to promote STEM education.” —U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects and programs teach students how to think logically, work methodically, and address complex problems from different angles. Learning how to solve differential equations on paper is part of a larger process. Instead of learning a trade, students in STEM programs learn a diverse skillset. Even more important, a strong foundation in STEM prepares students for the jobs of tomorrow.
The Changing Definition of Literacy in the Workplace
The definition of literacy has changed substantially in the past few decades. Today, many argue that a literate adult is able to not only read and write but fluently use popular computer programs and learn how to use new ones with ease. After all, a person was generally considered literate if he or she could decode a basic note about a century ago. Instead of finding new technology and approaches intimidating, students with a strong foundation in STEM subjects will know how to approach new materials with a methodical and viable mindset.
The STEM Job Outlook Is Bright
STEM industries tend to be exceptionally dynamic. The U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of Education predict STEM jobs to rise at a much faster rate than non-STEM jobs in the next decade. They also report STEM workers experiencing lower unemployment and higher wages on average. Below is a list of a few notable STEM career paths that were literally non-existent two short decades ago:
- Engineering Executive – About 20 years ago, Bookman Edmonston was the largest engineering firm in Los Angeles. The company boasted about 100 employees. Today, AECOM is arguably the largest engineering firm with over 40,000 employees that spans six continents.
- Internet Enterprise Executive – The Internet first went public in 1992, and no one really paid much attention for the next decade. Today, Google has over 47,000 employees and an industry largely dedicated to the company, search engine optimization. Don’t forget about Facebook, Twitter, and other online social media giants.
- Petroleum Engineers – Petroleum engineers repeatedly report the highest salary directly out of college. Careers in clean energy have taken off.
Other notable STEM careers are in industries that we tend to take for granted. Almost no American adult can imagine how he or she lived without a smartphone, let alone an Internet connection at home.
STEM Education Teaches Students How to Think Through Problems
The future of work and education is uncertain, but not in a negative way. Students that focus on STEM can learn to adapt quickly and easily to future industries. It is difficult to imagine that most adults used to get directions from large books of maps or simply ask. STEM does not necessarily prepare students to work in a specific job. Instead, STEM prepares students for the future workplace in the United States.
The problem-solving emphasis in STEM curriculums often helps students think of new, viable solutions to problems that might be “outside the box.” Creative thinking is great. However, creative ideas that can be readily analyzed and implemented are better.
STEM programs at Concept Schools prepare students for challenging and rewarding careers by teaching them the basic skills needed to solve complex problems and adapt quickly to technology and new ways of thinking.
Concept Schools in an Illinois-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charter management organization, which established its first school in Ohio in 1999, and has since expanded to 29 charter schools spread across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Concept-managed schools have achieved a number of successes over the years include, but are not limited to, two Blue Ribbon Awards by the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Title I Distinguished School Award, “Excellent” and “Excellent with Distinction” and “Effective” ratings by the applicable state Departments of Education, and being portrayed in the research about high-performing schools such as “Needles in Haystack” of the Fordham Foundation. Concept was also was among the highest-performing charter networks in a 2013 research study by CREDO of Stanford University. Most recently, one of its member schools, Chicago Math & Science Academy, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, received the highest College Persistence Rating from Chicago Public Schools for non-selective high school 2012 graduates. For more information about Concept Schools, please visit conceptschools.org.