children doing science experiments

Preparation for a knowledge-based economy

The importance of STEM education – to adequately prepare the next generation for approaching the knowledge-based economy

For decades improving the Science achievement of students in the U.S. has been the main focus for educators, researchers, and policymakers according to the National Research Council. According to the Congressional Research Council, annual federal appropriations for STEM education are typically in the range of $2.8 billion to $3.4billion. It has become a matter of urgency, as we embrace the Technological Revolution in the 21st century. According to the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine, advancement of the STEM workforce will require more than simply increasing the number and expertise of its future professionals. It will also require a marked increase in the cultural diversity of its talent. It’s important to make early STEM education accessible to all socio-economic and racial groups.

According to the World Economic Forum, Technology is rapidly altering the ways we interact and work, linking communities and workers in increasingly sophisticated ways and opening up new opportunities. Young people, therefore, need to develop digital fluency, and STEM skills from an early age if they are to be equipped to thrive in the modern workplace and also in modern society. Learners need a deeper understanding of how to apply technology and innovation, in order to achieve desired results. Education systems, meanwhile, need to ensure technology curricula are kept up-to-date, while teachers need to have the opportunity to refresh their own skills and knowledge in order to keep pace with external developments. The use of technology should be embedded across the educational experience, to mirror the ways in which technology is now relevant to all sectors and careers. Most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. Ten-year employment projections by the US Department of Labor, for example, anticipate that of the 20 fastest-growing occupations for the period between 2016 and 2026, many will require an increased understanding of math or science. Given the importance of STEM in the growth of future workplaces, it is important to ensure access to related education for all socio-economic groups. Girls and women are particularly underrepresented within high-value-added STEM disciplines, and it is crucial to find ways to increase their presence.