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The importance of STEM in creating a 21st century workforce

The importance of STEM in creating a 21st century workforce article image

The technology industry depends on a bright and skilled workforce.

The industry’s greatest assets are the dedicated and skilled employees who are committed to the continued innovation, global competitiveness, and growth of the companies they work for, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

CompTIA, is the voice of the world's (IT) Information Technology industry and is considered one of the IT industry's top trade associations.

Karen Drewitt, general manager, The Missing Link, and chair, CompTIA ANZ Channel Community, said: “Unfortunately, too many technology jobs remain unfilled.

“Jobs that require some background in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) are growing far more rapidly than the number of workers with the adequate skillsets to fill them, creating an unrelenting skills gap. These open jobs are untapped potential.” 

This was the main finding in a CompTIA research brief Assessing the IT Skills Gap, published last year.

To fully understand the scope of the issue, it’s important to distinguish between technology industry employment and technology occupation employment.

Tech industry experiencing solid growth 

The technology industry workforce consists of anyone employed by a technology company. On the other hand, technology occupations are filled by technology specialists who work in adjacent industries such as healthcare, finance, media, government, and others.

“While the technology industry is experiencing solid growth, the reality remains that the labour pool from which it draws is not growing as fast. Too few workers are armed with the requisite skillsets to compete in today’s knowledge economy,” said Ms Drewitt.

It’s important to help students better understand the fundamental building blocks of STEM through:

1. Increased adoption of experiential learning
 

Mentorships and internships can go a long way in upskilling workers. In addition to providing hands-on, experiential learning, these programs can bridge the confidence gap and grow the talent pool by giving workers the opportunity to learn from someone like themselves; someone who shares a similar background, career pathway, or was similarly fearful of having to learn new skills at one time. 

2. Increased emphasis on the “T” in STEM

Computer science has become synonymous with STEM, however, supporting computer science in the classroom shouldn’t become the full extent of STEM education. An increased emphasis on the “T” (technology) in STEM will help open additional career pathways. 

“When jobs go unfilled, the industry and the economy are limited in their ability to innovate, grow, and remain globally competitive, Ms Drewitt added. “It’s important to support STEM education and focus on the areas that have the best potential to rapidly grow the pool of skilled workers available for the technology industry.”

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