September is the time for students to head back to school. If you’re someone whose school days are long past, you might be wondering what bearing the schooling of these future generations has on your role as a manufacturer or manufacturing in general. The impact of schools and what students choose to study is directly related to how quickly and how well the existing skills gap in the industry can be filled.
Not Seeing the Opportunities
For years, lawmakers, manufacturers, businesses and academia have tried to come up with various ways to interest students in the study of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes. Results of these endeavors continue to produce mixed results, but a new survey conducted by Emerson sheds new light on the subject. The Emerson study found one reason students forego participating in science and math from an early age is because they don’t understand the associated career opportunities.
Demand Grows, Interest Flags
In the midst of some of the highest demand for scientists and engineers, Emerson is calling this a “missed opportunity of a generation.” The survey found 42 percent of respondents would have considered an education in STEM with a better understanding of the potential career path. One in three said they chose not to pursue a STEM career because it seemed too hard.
With results like these, it’s easy to hypothesize students were turned off from STEM classwork because it lacked the creativity found in other subjects such as writing and English. Who hasn’t felt that learning things by rote made a subject less fun? If this is the way students receive STEM projects, it’s easier to understand why fewer students choose this path of study and the resulting skills gap for many industries.
Changing the Mindset
In an effort to highlight the opportunities students have in a variety of STEM-related fields such as manufacturing, engineering and math, Emerson is spreading the work about its “I Love STEM” campaign. The multimedia push features self-proclaimed science nerd and YouTube star Hank Green profiling innovations possible through STEM and the scientists and engineers responsible for them. This is potentially good news for STEM and good news for manufacturers looking for a more technologically inclined workforce.
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