Over the last several decades, the United States has declined as an economic and educational global leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). To regain economic success and global competitiveness in these fields, government at all levels should launch campaigns that raise STEM awareness and increase student engagement. Actively leveraging social media channels is one potential path to drive K-12 excitement in STEM education and jobs through challenges.
According to the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s (ACT-IAC) Quadrennial Government Technology Review, only about a third of bachelor’s degrees earned in the U.S. are in a STEM field, compared to more than half of university degrees earned in China and Japan. With the decline in K-12 interest and engagement in these fields, the U.S. may likely continue to fall short on maintaining an adequate pipeline of STEM-educated professionals. But just how troubling is this situation, and what does it mean for the nation and our future?
Jobs in STEM are increasing three times faster than jobs in the rest of the economy and as a result, by 2018, the U.S. faces a projected deficit of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM professionals. To remain competitive, the U.S. needs to close the gap between the knowledge and skills needed in STEM, and the number of available professionals to fill those needs.
(Next page: How social media is taking root—and how it can help STEM fields)