- A Congressional subcommittee met last week to discuss what role government can play in bridging the skills gap and preparing American students for tomorrow’s jobs. During the hearing, Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships for STEM Education and Careers, lawmakers heard from university leaders the director of the National Institute of Metalworking Skills.
- In 2015, approximately 14.3 million Americans were employed in STEM jobs, but a survey of four-year degree holders estimated 19.4 million believed their job required at least a bachelor’s degree level of STEM expertise, the chair of the Task Force on the Skilled Technical Workforce said.
- And in manufacturing, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade, Montez King, executive director of NIMS, testified. However, the skills gap will likely see 2 million of these go vacant. His recommendations included expanding work-and-learn opportunities, creating education pathways that provide support from middle school through career advancement, and working with industry to create and deploy career-related education and training.
The panel heard testimony that, globally, America is lagging behind. “We can’t just prepare kids for the jobs we have open today—we have to prepare them for the jobs that don’t yet exist,” King testified.
Today, only 3% of American high school seniors are interested in a STEM career and are proficient in mathematics, but many companies are trying to pique interest. And manufacturing is trying to stave off the massive labor shortage that's expected when its aging workforce retires.
Industry leaders, community groups and government are beginning to work together to rewire the workforce for vacancies both already existing and upcoming. One local group, for example, is leading forums connecting trade schools with employers. The “reskilling crisis” is attracting attention and action around the globe as business and educators work together to meet demand.