What is STEM?

Career & Education

What is STEM?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!

Many people are talking about the benefits of STEM education, but what is STEM and why is it important?

STEM is the acronym for the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and maths. To many, they form the basis for 21st century skills needed to be successful in the evolving jobs of the future.

If you ask many students, you may hear that STEM represents the group of subjects that are boring, tedious, and lacking real-world applications. Science and math have always been a major part of the high school curriculum, but many students have disengaged from them because they don't see that they have any relevance to the real world or their daily lives. For them, math and science have become a set of rules, procedures, laws, theorems, and formulas to memorise. Some students even develop math anxiety and think they are incapable of learning higher-level mathematics.

Technology and engineering courses are beginning to have more of a presence in high schools, but many students feel that those types of classes are not for them. Some students are influenced by gender or racial biases which say that female and minority students are less capable in STEM subjects. Other students think these courses are only intended for advanced students or those who plan to pursue careers as computer scientists or engineers.

But let's take a look at why STEM is important.

As economies around the world change, in tandem with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the rise of automated technologies and renewable sources of energy, the demand for STEM-capable workers is growing. In the US, for example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics counted more than 8.3 million STEM jobs in May of 2014, which accounted for 6.2 per cent of total employment in that country. That number is expected to continue to increase as companies grow and innovate to compete in the global economy. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salary for all STEM jobs is US$85,570, which is almost double the average salary for all jobs.

Many people still envision STEM professionals as wearing a white lab coat and conducting research in a laboratory. In reality, some of the most in-demand STEM fields are petroleum engineering, process engineering, and computer engineering. These fields – which are currently experiencing shortages of qualified candidates – are also among the highest paying, with the average petroleum engineer earning an annual salary of US$147,520 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' May 2014 data.

In addition, STEM subjects teach students valuable skills that are vital for success in all careers, even those that do not directly require STEM knowledge. Engagement in STEM subjects helps students develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills. These skills are so universal, in fact, that statistics released in the summer of 2013 by the US Census Bureau indicated that about three-quarters of the people with a bachelor's degree in STEM fields are not working in those professions. Many non-STEM employers are poaching STEM-qualified job candidates because they are more creative and collaborative than their non-STEM counterparts.

As the global economy continues to evolve, the need for STEM-capable workers will continue to grow. By getting teachers, parents, and students involved in the STEM movement, a new generation of skilled workers will be poised to energise and expand this exciting field. Hopefully the next time someone asks “What is STEM?” the universal answer will be: “The path to a job that is more relevant to toay's industry needs”, or “Your route to a job that outpays others”.

— stemjobs.com

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaper-login




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon