Developing Florida’s next generation of STEM innovators
The future of the economy is in STEM.
Occupations related to STEM - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - in the United States are projected to grow to more than nine million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about one million jobs over 2012 employment levels. While many often think of career-paths that require a four-year degree like civil engineers, doctors, accountants or scientists, there are a vast array of other careers in STEM, and approximately half of those STEM jobs only require a two-year degree.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are present everywhere. Did you check the weather before picking out your outfit? Science. Did you use your smartphone to use your weather app and check your morning emails? Technology. Did you use a road or cross a bridge to arrive to your destination? Engineering. Did you determine the correct change while buying your morning coffee? Math. STEM is everywhere we look.
Studies have shown math and science understanding will be a staple in all jobs moving forward. STEM education develops students’ critical thinking skills and provides hands-on learning opportunities for students to explore subjects in ways they may not have had the opportunity in the past.
STEM education is also helping narrow the gap when it comes to ethnic and gender gaps often present in the math and science field. By encouraging a passion for STEM education in K-12 schools, students of all genders and backgrounds have the opportunity to discover a passion for a subject they might not have otherwise. But we have a responsibility to ensure all students have the family and community support needed to access and pursue STEM opportunities and careers.
To meet the rapidly growing demand for qualified STEM professionals and develop the next generation of leaders, the Florida PTA is excited to partner with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) to support 20 Florida schools’ initiatives for STEM curriculum through a $110,000 STEM Pipeline educational grant.
While many often think of career-paths that require a four-year degree like civil engineers, doctors, accountants or scientists, there are a vast array of other careers in STEM, and approximately half of those STEM jobs only require a two-year degree. In line with Florida’s need to develop our next generation of workforce, the STEM Talent Pipeline program was created to support existing or developing STEM initiatives and show students that the biopharmaceutical industry actively supports their passion for learning. Educational programs in schools and clubs can teach the building blocks of STEM skills that the industry’s workforce needs while providing students with critical opportunities.
We are thrilled to provide schools with resources to foster passion for STEM education, show children how much fun STEM can be and educate families about STEM careers and education pathways, which is essential to bridge the STEM gap and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals. It’s also critical to build teamwork, leadership and problem-solving to help them navigate real-world problems.
While this partnership will help support our schools, we encourage parents throughout the state to do their best to encourage participation in STEM activities inside and outside of school to help our educators develop tomorrow’s innovators.
Dr. Danielle Thomas is the vice president for education at the Florida PTA, an association of parents and educators on a mission to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.