Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report released its STEM Index of the United States. It revealed that student aptitude for and interest in science, technology, engineering and math has been essentially flat for more than a decade, at the same time that the need for STEM skills continues to grow.
This situation is being replicated throughout the world. The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) recently released its own report, in which it characterizes the international STEM crisis as a "STEM paradox." It's not that there aren't enough STEM graduates - the problem is that there aren't enough work-ready graduates. Other challenges include a "brain drain" from developing countries and a lack of women in STEM fields, which makes it impossible for employers to fill all their STEM job openings.
The NYAS report also outlines how partnerships between governments, corporations and institutions can solve problems in the STEM workforce pipeline. In response to these needs and opportunities, the Global STEM Alliance was created last year. It's an international collaboration of public and private entities that harnesses the collective mindshare of corporations, local and national governments, nonprofits, students and STEM leaders. This Alliance will bring together STEM professionals of different ages and cultures to develop often-missing foundational skills and adapt to specific environments. The Alliance will engage and prepare the next generation for careers that encourage global economic development and the innovation needed to address and overcome today's biggest challenges.
The goal of the Global STEM Alliance is to create an environment where governments, businesses, nonprofits and schools all work collaboratively to encourage students' interest in STEM and train them for the jobs of today - and tomorrow. The three critical elements of a strong STEM ecosystem are:
• Soft and hard skills: A combination of classroom learning with real-world experiences deployed throughout the educational system to give students both the technical and professional interpersonal skills they need to succeed;
• Mentoring to impart vision: A culture of mentorship that empowers all involved to understand the importance of and opportunities that lie within STEM; and
• Incentivizing innovation: Government incentives that encourage companies to invest in innovation and scientific research to create promising job opportunities for STEM graduates.
Immediate and cooperative action is required in order to fill STEM gaps. The Alliance has committed to mentoring 1,000,000 aspiring STEM leaders in over 100 countries by 2020, creating STEM leaders in developing nations and promoting economic development worldwide. The Alliance already has among its members corporate partners like Cisco and government partners like Malaysia, Benin and the city of Barcelona.
The global STEM crisis is bigger than any one entity to conquer. Our highly connective world poses many challenges but also affords tremendous opportunities. It creates both the need for more STEM professionals and the means to meet that need via international collaboration and innovation. Educational institutions, organizations and governments do not have the knowledge and financial resources required on their own, which is why the Global STEM Alliance came into being. It brings together these three spheres of influence to prepare the employees of today and tomorrow for the jobs that will continue to propel our world forward on its trajectory of greater economic development and connectedness.
Additional information on the Global STEM Alliance is available here.
To see Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President, Industry Solutions & Chief Globalization Officer, discuss the initiative, click here.