It’s amazing how prescient President Kennedy was when he spoke on September 12, 1962, about the need for increased focus on science and education in order for the US to catch up in the race to put a man on the moon. In his words, “The growth of our science and education will be enriched by…new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as school.” His words stirred an entire generation to emphasize what we now call STEM, and drove tens of thousands of students into STEM-based occupations. According to Tim Bajarin, in his article for Time Magazine, “How STEM Skills Are the Next Great Equalizer,” when no one took up this gauntlet, the well went dry until the tech boom in the late 1990’s reignited interest in STEM careers.
Today, we again find ourselves in need of workers with STEM skills to grow our future economy. When Bajarin spoke with large companies like Boeing and Intel, they expressed the fear that at current rates, there will not be enough tech-educated workers to meet their needs. He even quoted one estimate claiming there will be 2.4 million STEM vacancies in 2018 alone! That should set off bells and alarms for educators, students and employers — there will be jobs. There will be GOOD jobs in the pipeline. But if today’s young adults want to be part of the next big technology revolution, the focus needs to be on STEM today.