An Investment in Education for the Next Generation of STEM Innovators Is a Smart Bet

It's no secret that the cost of a college education has steadily increased over the years. As that price tag continues to rise, it becomes even more important for parents and their college-aged children to seriously consider the schools and majors they choose.

As the focus on innovation and technology in American industries continues to sharpen, the need for qualified applicants in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) fields will also become more evident.

Students who choose a STEM-related major can expect to enter a market where the number of jobs is projected to grow twice as fast as jobs in other fields over the next five years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But while the opportunities for STEM students continue to increase, eligible applicants remain in short supply. Job listings for STEM occupations take more than twice as long to fill as those in other fields, and the National Center for Education Statistics states that of the 3.8 million high school freshmen in the U.S., only six percent pursue a STEM degree in college.

But there is hope on the horizon. STEM skills are widely needed across a variety of trade and professional occupations, and providing resources and financial opportunities for students to pursue a secondary education is an important step in shaping the future of our next generation.

The Buick Achievers Scholarship Program, funded by the General Motors Foundation, began accepting scholarship applications this earlier this month for the 2015-16 academic school year. Dedicated to providing opportunities for deserving students while continuing to evolve the face of STEM, the program is open to applicants with an interest in technical and automotive industry-related fields.

Special consideration is given to students who are female, minorities, first-generation college students, military veterans and military dependents.

Since 2011, the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program has awarded more than $27 million in scholarships to 3,400 students. This year, the program will once again award scholarships up to $25,000 per year, renewable for up to four years or five years for qualified engineering programs.

As we work to equip students with the education they need, we're ultimately investing in our country's most powerful asset - human capital. Like Benjamin Franklin once said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."