Millennials are failing because we are failing them

by: Neale Godfrey

Many of today’s Millennial students lack the skills necessary to fill the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) positions of tomorrow. Furthermore, a majority of U.S. students from low-income and minority households have an even greater gap when it comes to STEM knowledge. These shortages in STEM talent have broad implications, not only for our current and future workforce, but also for the burgeoning middle class we hope to foster.

Why is this important? According to the United States Department of Commerce Economics & Statistics Administration, STEM creates a nation of innovation and global competitiveness because it drives the generation of ideas and propels the creation of new industries. Moreover, growth in STEM jobs is three times faster than in other jobs; STEM occupations are projected to grow by more than 17 percent. As such, we should not sit idly as the U.S. unemployment numbers start to decline. There are some great opportunities lurking in a variety of STEM fields and we can almost be assured of another “downturn” if the right talent is not prepared to take those job opportunities.

How serious is our problem? Successful STEM Education states the issue perfectly. “Too few of our high school graduates are ready for college coursework or careers in STEM areas.” And, if that doesn’t get you worried, consider a recent comparison by the Level Playing Field Institute, which ranks the United States as 52nd in the world for quality of mathematics and science education, and a “soft” rank of 5th in overall global competitiveness. Not to mention that the United States ranks 27th amongst developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in these fields.

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