STEM: The Foundation of Future Success

In the past year, the news and conversations surrounding American manufacturing have been very positive. The industry has seen a major comeback. Quality and innovation are higher than ever.

Words like “reshoring” and “newshoring” have become part of the industry’s vocabulary. Companies who had sent their business overseas are returning it to U.S. soil in record numbers. New businesses are making the decision to keep all manufacturing here at home. American manufacturing, it seems, is everyone’s preference.

But there’s another less optimistic trend in the industry—many manufacturers are facing a skilled labor shortage. Their business is increasing, and they have plenty of open positions, but there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them.

Enter STEM education. STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—is the foundation of manufacturing, technology, and progress, in general. Those who truly succeed in manufacturing and epitomize innovation are highly skilled in STEM subjects, and they are the future of the industry.

According to Forbes, there are currently 7.3 million STEM positions in America. “The advanced knowledge required for this work translates into significantly higher compensation, with the average annual STEM-industry wage crossing $82,000—nearly double the average in the overall economy.” Simply put, STEM careers are as good for businesses as they are for the individuals who pursue them.

Therefore, we as a country need to work hard to bridge the gap. We need to encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM fields, where they’ll find rewarding, lucrative futures while filling much-needed positions. The way to do this is by educating children of all ages in these subjects while demonstrating the value of a future in a STEM field.

Thankfully, there are currently many programs in place throughout the country, from the federal government’s Educate to Innovate program to countless private industry initiatives. Emerson, for instance, has created the “I Love STEM” program, pledging millions to promoting STEM education. While Google’s RISE awards provide grants to promote computer science education. Then there’s the STEM Education Coalition, whose sole mission is to “improve the way our students learn science, mathematics, technology, and engineering.”

Of course, this effort doesn’t have to be left to major corporations and the government. We can all do our part. Parents and teachers can encourage this type of learning and build enthusiasm, while small businesses can open their doors and show their communities what they make, do, and build. Everyone can be a significant part of the change.

Manufacturing and technology are the keys to our country’s future success, and if we make STEM a priority, everybody wins.