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Why STEM?

Englewood STEM – Identification of Need

The question of “why STEM” comes up in conversation quite often.  The answer is complex, and often elusive.  It can be qualified in regard to students practicing and using the 21st Century skills that are highly sought after by employers such as creativity, innovation, collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, self-direction, etc.  It can be observed in classrooms and labs where student who are immersed in STEM learning are highly engaged in rigorous and relevant learning utilizing industry grade tools, software, and output devices.  But it can also be quantified with data.

Did you know that…

Sixty percent of the new jobs available in the 21st century will require skills possessed by only 20 percent of the current workforce. (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce)

STEM occupations are expected to grow by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared with 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations. (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce)

Eighty percent of the jobs created in the next decade will require some form of math and science skills. (Source: National Science Foundation)

Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. (Source: United States Department of Education)

     Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related         career. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among                     industrialized nations. In our competitive global economy, this       situation is unacceptable.  (Source: United States                    Department of Education)

Colorado has one of the highest per capita concentrations of science, research, and engineering facilities in the nation, with 24 federally funded research labs. (Source:  Colorado STEM Education Roadmap)

Colorado has one of the highest skilled workforces in the country and is expected to experience above national demand for STEM-skilled workers. Yet Coloradans are not prepared to compete for these jobs – a trend commonly called the Colorado Paradox.  (Source:  Colorado STEM Education Roadmap)

In Colorado, the time spent on science in elementary school has decreased from 2.9 hours per week in 1993-1994 to 1.6 hours per week in 2011-2012, landing Colorado in the bottom five states in terms of time spent on science in the early grades.  (Source:  Colorado STEM Education Roadmap)

STEM education and opportunities are simply not available to far too many Colorado students. Hispanic, female, and rural populations are often underserved or underrepresented in STEM educational opportunities. (Source:  Colorado STEM Education Roadmap).  (Englewood High School currently has a 57% free and reduced lunch and 46% minority population.)

Advanced industries comprise engineering and research and development intensive companies that share common workforce skills in STEM, accounting for 30 percent of the state’s economy (520,300 high-paying jobs and hundreds of thousands of ancillary jobs). xiii

In 2014, Colorado ranked fourth in job growth out of all states. xiv

Growing demand for STEM skills — The demand for STEM skills in Colorado is on the rise, with numerous projections showing that Colorado will see above national average growth in STEM occupations. The demand for STEM-literate workers is also increasing across non-STEM occupations. xv

Colorado ranks high (top 5) among states with adults with postsecondary degrees; it ranks low (bottom 20 percent) among states with high school students who go on to earn college degrees.

Colorado has a leaking educational pipeline, producing 22 postsecondary degree holders for every 100 students who enter a Colorado high school. xvi

In-migration of talent is down and is projected to continue declining, making the need to grow our own talent increasingly urgent. xvii

STEM jobs pay more — STEM jobs requiring the most education have a 14 percent wage premium compared to non-STEM jobs with similar education requirements. xix

Lower unemployment in STEM — According to the nonpartisan advocacy group Change the Equation, from 2009 to 2011 some 1.49 STEM jobs were posted online in Colorado for every one unemployed STEM worker in the state.

xii Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.advancecolorado.com/international-business/advancedindustries-export-accelerator-program. Office of Colorado State Governor John Hickenlooper. (2013, January 7). Gov. Hickenlooper announces advanced industries accelerator act [press release]. Retrieved from http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/GovHickenlooper/CBON/1251638036525.

xiv Prah, P. (2014, January 7). Which states will generate jobs in 2014? [web log comment]. Retrieved from The Pew Charitable Trusts website http://www. pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2014/01/07/which-states-will-generate-jobs-in-2014.

xv Draft – Colorado Department of Higher Education; STEM in Colorado: Aligning Education and Workforce Needs. Rothwell, J. (2013, June 10). The hidden STEM economy. Retrieved from The Brookings Institute website: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/reports/2013/06/10%20stem%20economy%20 rothwell/thehiddenstemeconomy610.pdf.

xvi Colorado Department of Higher Education. (2014, January). 2014 legislative report on the Skills for Jobs Act. Retrieved from http://highered.colorado.gov/ Publications/Reports/Legislative/Workforce/2014_SkillsforJob.pdf

     xvii Colorado Innovation Network. (2013, August 26). Colorado innovation report: Accelerating Colorado’s entrepreneurial momentum 2013. Retrieved from http://                www.coloradoinnovationnetwork.com/wp-content/themes/coin/assets/pdf/coii_2013.pdf.

     xix Rothwell, J. (2013, June 10). The hidden STEM economy. Retrieved from The Brookings Institute website: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/ reports/2013/06/10%20stem%20economy%20rothwell/thehiddenstemeconomy610.pdf.

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