By Leanne Huebner, MBEF Board Member
First in a series of two articles looking at STEM Education
In a recent MBEF survey, 78% of Manhattan Beach parents and a majority of teachers said that they would like our District to prioritize the implementation of STEM/STEAM education in our schools, ranking this discipline as the top priority for future MBEF grants.
Whether you are a STEM or a STEAM advocate, Manhattan Beach parents are certainly “in the know” of where future jobs are for our children. STEM Education – otherwise known as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEAM incidentally just adds the “A” for art, emphasizing the importance of teaching kids creativity and risk–taking skills) has been the laser focus of educators, politicians, and business leaders since 2009 when the U.S. Department of Labor listed its “ten most wanted employees”.
Eight of those ten employees required degrees in the STEM fields – accounting, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, information sciences and systems, computer engineering, civil engineering, and economics and finance. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, these occupations are growing at 17% while others are growing at under 10%. Depending on what study you review, STEM workers typically earn between 26 to 33% more than those in non-STEM positions, creating higher tax bases and better financial options for our children.
The national movement towards increasing emphasis on STEM fields really began when employers such as Microsoft, Google, and other big tech giants started voicing concerns that their recruiters couldn’t find enough qualified U.S.-educated candidates for their growing companies. The argument has even impacted U.S. immigration reform efforts currently being discussed in D.C. this week.
According to a McKinsey report, 64% of companies have vacancies now for STEM positions due to the lack of qualified applicants. By 2020, the gap will increase when U.S. will demand 123 million highly-skilled workers, but will have only 50 million qualified people to fill these roles (according to a 2009 The Futurist study). Sadly, the U.S. is now ranked 47th out of 144 countries in quality of math and science education according to a 2012 World Economic Forum Report. So even the candidates that can fill the positions may not be the highest qualified.
In November 2009, President Obama launched his administration’s “Educate to Innovate” initiative to move American student achievement higher in science and math. To date, the nationwide effort has garnered over $700 million in public-private partnerships. Many large corporations have also focused investment on increasing STEM education. For example, AT&T made a $350 million investment in education to help more students graduate from high school ready for careers and college.
Locally, companies such as Chevron and Northrop Grumman have been generously supporting STEM ideas and initiatives in our schools. For instance, a current Chevron grant provides funds to have same-sex middle school classes in science education, in part to address the shortage of women working in STEM fields. Chevron has also provided funding to the District in support of 3D Printers and Maker Space labs. Northrop Grumman has also been making grants to support our K-5 Science Specialists.
Math education is also changing with the implementation of Common Core Standards. Only time will tell if well-intended education initiatives and investments will in fact increase U.S. competitiveness in these fields, and if our children can capitalize on the surge of STEM job opportunities in our global marketplace for talent.
Next month: What are Manhattan Beach schools doing to encourage STEM and STEAM?
Manhattan Beach Chamber to Launch a New Program for Young Entrepreneurs
The Manhattan Beach Chamber will be launching the Young Entrepreneurs Academy for middle and high school children this winter. The program will start January 5, 2015 and last until June 2, 2015 meeting once a week from 5-8pm at Mira Costa High School.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a year-long program that teaches students in grades 6-12 how to start and run their own, REAL businesses. Students brainstorm business ideas, decide if they want to work by themselves or as a team, write a business plan, pitch their plan to investors for funding, and actually launch their own business or social movement. All of the learning is real and experiential. Students have the opportunity to leave the class as business owners, complete with a DBA and bank account!
The Chamber is currently looking for middle or high school students between the ages of 11-18 who are interested in starting their own business. Applications are being accepted, and student interviews are conducted, on a rolling basis. YEA! will grant admission to a maximum of twenty four students annually. Applications for the 2014-15 academic year will be accepted until December 1, 2014, or until the class cap is achieved.
For more information on the program please contact the Manhattan Beach Chamber at 310.545.5313 or at www.ManhattanBeachChamber.com/YEA.