Originally published: November 15, 2012
Last updated: November 26, 2012 - 9:15pm
The National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council released a report that recommended the Defense Department overhaul its recruiting and hiring practices in order to effectively compete for critical workers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. While that report put more emphasis on the quality of STEM candidates, a new report released by the American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council’s Institute for Innovation focuses on the challenges federal agencies and industry face on the front end -- the quantity of STEM candidates.
While scientific innovation produces roughly half of all U.S. economic growth, the educational pipeline necessary to fill STEM jobs and make that economic growth possible is not readily up to task, the report noted. For example, the United States ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in mathematics based on an international assessment of 15-year-olds in 70 countries. Inadequate early education is the start to this negative trend, as many students never make it into the STEM pipeline. In addition, jobs in STEM fields are increasing three times faster than jobs in the rest of the economy, yet American students are not entering these fields in sufficient numbers. That means that by 2018, the nation faces a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers, a problem that is compounded by the large number of Baby Boomer retirements, ACT-IAC found.