Computer Science Skills Increasingly More Important in Wider Range of Jobs

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Computer Science Skills Increasingly More Important in Wider Range of Jobs

As we kick off the start of Computer Science Education Week, I wanted to share some recent research published by Oracle Academy and Burning Glass. The data is foundational in explaining why Computer Science for All (#CSforAll) is compelling – and it also helps to paint a clearer picture of a personal passion point. The impetus of the research is grounded in how jobs are classified since “computer science” careers are often narrowly defined as computer programmers and software engineers. Not all people in tech are developers, engineers, and computer scientists. Many technologists (myself included) specialize in design, user experience, data science, or marketing.  

Alison Derbenwick Miller, Vice President of the Oracle Academy, contributed to the research forward and aptly states, "By a wide margin, the fastest growing and highest paying jobs require computer science skills, and the ability to work with and analyze data—any kind of data, in any industry—is increasingly linked with computer science skills. Interestingly, by an even wider margin, the same jobs that value computer science skills do not require a degree in computer science."  

Here are a few other interesting highlights from the research:  

  • Hybrid roles where candidates are expected to have a combination of programming skills, data analysis skills and domain-specific skills such as marketing or business strategy are becoming more the norm (read my previous blog about hybrid jobs here
  • Specific skills, more than a particular college major or prior experience, are key to landing jobs 
  • Data management and analysis skills are at least as important as teaching coding 
  • Computer science skills are a key differentiator which can have a significantly impact earning potential  

The bottom line:  computer science skills are increasingly more important in a wider range of jobs. Read the full Rebooting Jobs report to learn more about the fastest-growing and highest-paying computer science skills in each job category – and the implications for students learning computer science.   

Happy Computer Science Education Week!  

#CSforAll #CSEdWeek @CSforAllTchrs

Source:  http://burning-glass.com/wp-content/uploads/rebooting_jobs_2017.pdf 

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Advice For Apprentices From The Companies That Hire Them!

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Advice For Apprentices From The Companies That Hire Them!

Every November, The United States Department of Labor celebrates National Apprentice Week (NAW). NAW gives employers a chance to highlight the benefits of their apprentice programs. The week’s events also help to educate the public about the role of apprenticeships in preparing a highly-skilled workforce.

As the November apprenticeship celebrations draw to a close, I wanted to reflect on lessons that I have learned in working with CareerWise and its partner employers over the last couple of months. CareerWise Colorado is building a statewide system of youth apprenticeships that create pathways for students to access high-demand, high-paying careers. Student apprentices work toward high school graduation and earn postsecondary credit, industry credentials or both in their chosen career path.

In working with our partner, CareerWise, we have had the pleasure of interviewing several employees at the organizations that hire apprentices. These employees offered sage advice to youth who are considering or are actively employed in an apprenticeship. Below is a summarization of thoughts they shared with us…

  • You don’t know where you want to go in the end at the start – so, if the company allows it, move throughout various roles/departments (operations, food & beverage, engineering, etc.) to find where your passion is! – Training Specialist at a Hotel Management Company
  • Apprenticeships often lead to fulltime employment; therefore during your time as an apprentice assess how the company treats employees and how teams interact with one another to make sure the culture is a great fit for you. – Logistics Specialist at a Bike Component Manufacturer
  • Use your time as an apprentice to network with other employees at the organization and to learn about their jobs. - Loan Officer at a Community Bank
  • Companies make huge investments in you buy helping you to ‘start from nothing’ and build relevant industry skills – be sure to thank your co-workers for the things they teach you during your apprenticeships. – Paint Technician at Aircraft Maintenance Company
  • There are a lot of things that companies do and use in a workplace environment that you are not going to get trained on at school – consider an apprenticeship in order to get real-life experience that makes you more employable after school. - Quality Assurance Manager at a Home Improvement Digital Marketplace Company

If you have additional thoughts/advice, please share with us (info at couragion.com). And if you (or students in your life) are looking to learn more about apprenticeships, here are some recently published articles to help…

  1. Room To Grow: Identifying New Frontiers For Apprenticeships – Burning Glass Technologies & Harvard Business School
  2. Jobs Now! Learning From The Swiss Apprenticeship Model – Forbes
  3. Apprenticeships, Long Common In Blue-Collar Industries, Are Coming To White-Collar Office Work – The Washington Post
  4. Betsy DeVos: Stop 'Forcing' Four-Year Degrees As Only Pathway To Success – Education Week

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Industry Certifications as a Means to Workforce Readiness

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Industry Certifications as a Means to Workforce Readiness

Career pathways are messy – and are no longer the carefully documented corporate tracks of the past. Research shows Generations Y and Z will have far more careers than past generations. So how will the workers reinvent themselves to stay relevant? A new report from Burning Glass entitled "The Narrow Ladder" may have an answer as they use job posting data to examine the market value of industry certifications. 

Here are some fast facts and interesting observations from the report:  

  • Certifications which outline career ladders and give employers and job seekers guidance about the skills necessary to advance are the exception.  
  • Industry certifications signal a validated proficiency of job skills and help new labor market entrants break into a field.  
  • Career fields that value certifications carry a significant salary premium especially as a career accelerator for workers seeking upward mobility.  
  • Fields like IT Networking are completely shaped by "stackable" certifications which outline the career paths from beginner to expert.  
  • Other fields are ripe for certification pathways when they validate hard to find skills and struggle to find qualified talent. 

Industry certifications provide an economical alternative pathway for workforce readiness and career advancement with a promise to reduce labor skill gaps. In the Burning Glass research, there is however a call for a more clear, transparent information about the market value of certifications across the board.  

As a parent or educator, would your support your student's pursuit of industry certifications as an alternative postsecondary pathway?  

As an employer, would you hire someone who has industry certifications but not a degree? Do you have a model for career advancement that involves credentialing via certifications?  

Let's keep this conversation going.  

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Career Literacy:  Celebrating Career Development Month

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Career Literacy: Celebrating Career Development Month

November is National Career Development Month - so naturally Couragion is excited to celebrate! Did you know that career development and school counseling dates back to the 1800's and began as a means to provide vocational guidance to assist in the shift from an agrarian to an industrial society? In the 1960's, counseling shifted from being focused exclusively on career development to include personal/social issues. This was a sign of the times as social justice and civil rights were paramount. In the 1990's, the three core domains of counseling were established as academic, career, and personal/social.  

All told, that's a seriously demanding charter for school counseling. Now add on top of that globalization and technological innovation – and the colossal impact it's having on our evolving workforce. It's no wonder education struggles to understand the needs of the labor market and emerging careers available to our students. With all these competing agendas, we just don't have enough focus on career development and readiness. Career literacy is an imperative! Our students need to understand the opportunities available to them. Families and educators need to support that decision making as students select career pathways. Couragion was created in part to provide solutions to these challenges.  

In the spirit of making National Career Development Month actionable and productive, here are a few activities that we can all benefit from:  

  • Reach out to someone who has supported you in your job or career and THANK them! Be specific about how they inspired or backed you. A few weeks ago, I participated in a 'STEM Women from Egypt' event and recently received this message from Rana (pictured above with me), one of the amazing teachers I worked with.  

"It was an honor to meet you. It was an amazing time and I had great benefit from our conversation. I introduced my ideas about STEM schools and fusing it with an American system and now have an appointment to speak with the owner of our school."  

  • Continue to build your network of mentors. Mentors are not singular – you'll find that you need many in order to ask for and receive the support you need. In the AT&T #WomenInTech Talk that I participated in last week, my advice in 140 characters was as follows. 

"Map your mentor goals, seek wisdom + experience not celebrities, date before asking to go steady" 

November is National Career Development Month. November 13th - 17th is National Career Development Week. November 15th is National Career Development Day.  

Do you have any other advice on how to celebrate? We'd love to hear your stories and ideas.   

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Implementing Work-Based Learning In K12 – Six Tips From Industry

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Implementing Work-Based Learning In K12 – Six Tips From Industry

I just returned from the 2017 TalentFOUND Sectors Summit – an event focused on accelerating Work-Based Learning (WBL) opportunities for students. For those not familiar with WBL, here is a definition from the Colorado Development Network:

Work-Based Learning (WBL) – learning opportunities that occur in part or in whole in the workplace and provide the learner with hands-on, real world experience. Work-based learning opportunities include but are not limited to internships, apprenticeships, residencies and incumbent worker training.

A major theme in the conference was how industry, community partners, workforce organizations, and K-12 and post-secondary education entities can partner together to increase the number of WBL opportunities that are provided to students.  

I attended the K-12 education track in which a major focus was on helping K-12 educators understand how to best engage with industry to create WBL experiences. Here are my favorite pieces of advice that the industry representatives gave educators…

  1. Attend local industry association meetings to get to know local businesses and the type of competencies and skills they are looking for.
  2. Find a way to make WBL count as credit toward graduation. Be creative if need be and include the student in crosswalks of how their WBL experiences map to education standards.
  3. Discuss social good with your target industry partners and emphasize the fact that when employees help students with WBL activities, employee engagement increases.
  4. Investigate workplace tours, job shadows or even summer externships for your teachers. Educating teachers about careers and industry is critical so that they can best counsel students about WBL opportunities.
  5. Don’t forget about parents and guardians. Not only do students need to learn about career options and local industries, their families do too! Think about ways to include parents in industry tours, career days, or in sessions where students share details about their WBL experiences.
  6. When you do have success with an industry partner, summarize key results and student impact in an email that they can share within their organization and beyond. This makes it easier for them to get resources for future WBL activities with your students.

If you have other best practices from your own WBL efforts, please share them with us (info at Couragion.com).  Thanks!

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Who Gives The Best College Advice? It’s Not Who You’d Expect!

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Who Gives The Best College Advice? It’s Not Who You’d Expect!

Another informative report from Gallup and Strada Education Network was released last month. In June, my co-founder Mel shared highlights about the Gallup/Strada report that focused on which education decisions adults would change. The September report is titled ‘Where Students Get Valued Advice On What To Study In College’.

This most recent report was created using data gathered from "2,087 responses from U.S. residents who were asked to identify where they received advice about which major to pursue and then asked to rate the helpfulness of that advice".

The findings that I found most interesting were:

  • Only 11% cited getting college major advice from their high school counselor and this source had the lowest percent of respondents citing the advice was helpful!
  • Among the most frequently mentioned sources, the two with the highest percent of respondents stating that the college major advice was helpful were ‘a person with experience in the field’ and ‘an employer or coworker’.

These responses point to the importance of career role models (like those featured in Couragion’s app) and work-based experiences for our youth (such as the CareerWise Apprenticeship model). The report showed that those who received advice from these sources had the least percent of respondents having second thoughts about their major. 

As educators and parents, it behooves us to find ways to increase students’ access to role models and work-based experiences. How are you doing this with your children and/or students?

Visit this webpage to check out the entire report.

Image Credit: in the image above is one of our role models, Alicia, a logistics specialist at DT Swiss. She is pictured with her work mentor, Carlos, who has been instrumental in providing her with career advice.

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Inspiring The Next Generation of Manufacturers

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Inspiring The Next Generation of Manufacturers

Manufacturing Day is the first Friday in October — and this year it occurs on Oct 6, 2017. It’s a celebration of modern manufacturing intended to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Current manufacturers invite students, families, and educators to their facilities to educate them about career opportunities and improve the awareness and perception of manufacturing. Students who participated in Manufacturing Day last year reported some encouraging results which you can see in this infographic. 84 percent stated that they were more convinced that manufacturing provides careers that are rewarding and interesting – while 64 percent were more motivated to pursue a career in manufacturing!

Couragion is focused on improving the perception and awareness of all STEM careers. We’ve had the honor of featuring some incredible advanced manufacturing companies in the outdoor recreation, aerospace, and aviation fields. The Couragion career exploration application enables students to 'visit' manufacturing facilities virtually any day of the year - not just on Manufacturing Day. Here are a few student comments after being exposed to these manufacturing careers:

  • “I have a class where I can 3D print and it was awesome, so I think it would be the same thing but more challenging!!”
  •  “This job sounds really fun being able to work with your hands and other people to make products that are made to make other people happy.”
  •  “I've helped in building mechanical robots for robotics and I thought it was fun, so a career similar to this would be great.”


Back in June we published a blog about the US Public Opinion Of Manufacturing study written by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. This 6th release of the study provided insights about manufacturing job growth and summarized the public’s views about the sector. We'd recommend that you reference that blog to help prepare for Manufacturing Day, but we also wanted to share a few additional fun facts:

In 2015, the average U.S. manufacturing worker earned $81K annually. Manufacturing jobs pay well above average! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for U.S. workers is $44K per year.

U.S. manufacturers now post more jobs for software developers than production workers. This is a signal that the products we make and methods used to make them are increasingly driven by computers! Check out the Burning Glass report here.

Most U.S. manufacturing firms are small. In fact, three-quarters of manufacturing firms have fewer than 20 employees. This is good news since per Couragion’s student workforce data 42 percent of students are interested in working for small companies!  

How are you preparing for Manufacturing Day? Be sure to share your activities and adventures with #MFGDay17 and @MfgDay on social media!

 

Photo:  Role Models at West Star Aviation and DT Swiss

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Career Exploration – You Cannot Afford To Skip It!

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Career Exploration – You Cannot Afford To Skip It!

Recently, a friend shared a graph with me that portrayed price changes in the U.S. between 1997 and 2017.  While nonessential items such as TVs or Toys have experienced a nearly 70 to 100% drop in price, essential items such as education, childcare, or medical care have seen exorbitant increases in price. College tuition prices, for example, have increased by 170%! Meanwhile, the average wage index has increased by only 75% during the period from 1997 to 2015.

This data caused me to reflect on our June blog post that highlighted results from Gallup and Strada Education Network’s report entitled ‘On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect On Their Education Decisions’.  The report is based on surveys of 350 U.S. adults and it explores the ‘extent to which education consumers in the U.S. are pursuing and completing postsecondary education programs that advance their chosen careers and life goals’. It is disheartening to see the high percentage of adults who would change their past education decisions – 51% would change either the type of degree earned, their major, or the institution they attended! 

The above data really drives home the point that career exploration is necessary for our youth. With the high costs of college tuition, youth cannot afford to make uninformed purchase decisions regarding their post-secondary education. Career exploration teaches students about the factors they should consider when comparing career options and educational pathways. It enables them to benchmark options against their own interests, values, and desired work characteristics. It also provides students with insight into what their working life would be like after completing their post-secondary education. Armed with such information, youth are setting themselves up to make better post-secondary education choices, boosting their chances of long-term job satisfaction, and decreasing the chances of incurring college debt without the payout of a viable job offer.

How are you helping your students and/or children to make informed choices about one of the largest purchase decisions they will make in their lifetime? Make sure career exploration is part of their post-secondary planning process!

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Latinitas En STEM

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Latinitas En STEM

The Latinx share of the U.S. population has steadily increased over the past fifty years, yet the demographic still makes up less than 10 percent of STEM graduates and the STEM workforce. Frankly, many students and families are not aware of the STEM opportunities available to them. Couragion’s mission is to broaden participation in the STEM fields and to inspire underrepresented youth to pursue STEM credentials and competencies.

Last week Couragion supported an amazing event called Latinitas En STEM for the second year in a row. This 3-day event is sponsored by the Rose Foundation and Imaginarium-Denver Public Schools in partnership with Denver Startup Week. The event is designed so that young Latina middle schoolers can meet successful STEM professionals to build awareness, motivation, and preparation towards careers in STEM. All the girls are invited to participate in a special panel discussion during Denver Startup Week to discuss what they learned and gained from their time together.

Couragion’s co-founders held a career exploration workshop for the girls while also highlighting our personal longevity in the technology sector. In our efforts to create a new STEM identity based on Couragion research and insights, we wanted to share some fun facts about the Latinitas’ interests, values, and desired work characteristics:

  1. Frequent Flyers – Willing to travel 2x per month for work
  2. The Bachelor – Prefers to complete 4 years of postsecondary education
  3. Big Hearted – Having a job with a greater purpose is important
  4. Creative Genius – A high desire for a job that utilizes their creativity
  5. Scholar – Learning new things on the job is very important

We pride ourselves on featuring role models who mirror a diverse demographic – and it was heartening to see so many of the girls select role models in the Couragion app who looked like them! Couragion’s roots run deep with this program in that not only do Laura and I support the career exploration workshop – but 3 other Couragion role models featured in our application also supported the event.

  • Dr. Violeta García is the Latinitas in STEM program champion and facilitator who worked tirelessly to recruit the incredible volunteers and design an engaging agenda. She is an entrepreneur and the founder of STEM Learning by Design.
  • Vanessa Diaz is the Vice President of Market Insights at Transamerica. She hosted a group of Latinitas onsite in her office where they got to visit 3 STEM women on her team: a data engineer, a data scientist, and business analytics engineer.
  • Dr. Nicole Garneau is the Curator of Human Health and Principal Investigator of the Genetics of Taste Lab at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science where a portion of the event was hosted. Dr. Garneau led a ‘meet the scientist’ session and is an advocate for women in science.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 - October 15, 2017. Are you aware of any more activities to support this annual observation?

@DrVioletaGarcia @yopearlscigirl @imaginariumDPS @DenverMuseumNS

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CS Education Proponents – Don’t Forget Rural And Small-Town Students

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CS Education Proponents – Don’t Forget Rural And Small-Town Students

In August, Google and Gallup released a CS report focused on rural and small-town school districts. It is entitled Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap. According to the report, rural and small-town students make up nearly half of the U.S. K-12 population – so anyone that is passionate about solving CS talent shortages needs to pay attention to these students!

Data in the Google/Gallup report highlights that while rural/small-town students show similar interest levels in learning CS, their access to CS education opportunities is more limited.

For example, when students were asked how interested they were in learning computer science in the future, the percent of students that were very interested or somewhat interested was the same (82%) for both the rural/small-town and large city/suburban student segments. On the flip side, rural and small-town students had fewer opportunities for CS learning. According to Google/Gallup, rural and small-town students are:

  • Less likely to have CS classes (58% rural or small-town, 57% large-city and 65% suburban).
  • Less likely to have CS clubs in their school (47% rural or small-town, 59% large-city and 65% suburban).
  • Less likely to say they have courses that specifically teach coding (37% rural or small-town, 41% large-city and 49% suburban).
  • Less likely to have advanced-placement CS courses (8% rural or small-town 9% large-city and 12% suburban).

When Google/Gallup queried principals about the reasons behind having fewer CS learning opportunities, the most common answers given were a:

  • Lack of CS-skilled teachers (64%).
  • Lack of budget to train or hire teachers (56%).
  • Need to devote most of their time to courses related to testing requirements, and CS is not one of them (52%).

In Couragion’s own K-12 research (completed in Q1 2017 with generous support from the National Science Foundation), we saw similar trends in rural CS education. In looking at rural versus non-rural populations, the data showed that:

  • Rural schools were less likely to offer Java (50% of rural, 53% of non-rural).
  • Rural CS teachers were less likely to have a CS degree or CS certification (46% of rural teachers report no CS degree/certification, 31% of non-rural teachers report no CS degree/certification).
  • Rural schools report ¼ of the ‘per student CS budget’ than non-rural schools report.
  • Rural schools are less likely to offer CS family education events such as coding nights or maker days (13% of rural, 18% of non-rural).

So where does that leave us? Google/Gallup make the following recommendations to help increase CS learning opportunities for rural and small-town students:

  • Broaden support for CS education among parents, teachers and school-board members.
  • Strengthen mechanisms and support for teachers in rural settings.
  • Use local, national and global partners to increase awareness of CS careers in rural areas.

I would add that those of us involved in creating CS programs and curriculum need to think beyond place-based solutions. Many of today’s programs (such as job shadowing or mentor programs or out-of-school learning events) are place-based and by nature exclude those in rural or small-town areas. When putting such programs in place, an excellent addition would be to think about how the program can be adapted to include online components that reach our students outside of cities and suburbs.

If you have implemented creative ideas for increasing CS education access for rural/small-town students, we would welcome hearing about those (info at Couragion.com).

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A New Spin on Workforce Readiness (& Labor Day)

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A New Spin on Workforce Readiness (& Labor Day)

Growing up in the Northeast, my memories of Labor Day focused on wrapping up your summer jobs and starting a fresh school year. This Labor Day we're not only celebrating back to school with all our amazing educators and students - but we also just announced our new partnership with CareerWise and we couldn't be more excited.

CareerWise is shaping Colorado's workforce through innovative, business-led youth apprenticeships that will ultimately shift the paradigm of labor readiness. The new CareerWise infographic highlights many of the reasons we are so aligned in our collective work. Here are just a few…

  • Multiple student pathways – encourage students to gain skills today that will prepare them for the multiple careers they will have in the future, especially skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)
  • Alternative postsecondary education options – illuminate industry certifications and debt-free college credit opportunities, while helping to dispel the myth that every student needs to pursue a 4-year degree immediately after high school as the only path to success   
  • Engaged industry partners – ensure that businesses are 'producing' the next generation of talent in ways that will meet their workforce demands and meaningfully contribute to their bottom line today

Perhaps future Labor Days can be celebrated for the pride we take in helping our students achieve livable wages in rewarding, high-demand careers that they’ll love! 

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Increasing CS Interest Among Girls – 3 Tips Based On Couragion Data

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Increasing CS Interest Among Girls – 3 Tips Based On Couragion Data

According to the National Center For Women In Technology, while women make up 56% of the overall workforce, they make up just 26% of the computing workforce. And in 2015, although 57% of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women, only 18% of the bachelor’s degrees in Computer and Information Sciences were earned by women. So clearly there is much work to do to increase interest in CS among girls. My co-founders and I have all spent the majority of our careers building software apps – we have seen firsthand the lack of diversity in tech and as such we have personal missions to help boost that diversity. So, we decided to make some of our app data public in order to offer insights and advice to others like us who want to help girls see the opportunities that CS provides. Here are 3 ideas based on Couragion’s CS Career-related data:

  1. Help girls see the applicability of CS in other fields – especially Science-related fields. When asked to select the STEM category of greatest interest, Science is the most selected category with 43% of girls choosing it. That compares to 22% of girls choosing Technology, 19% selecting Math, and 16% opting for Engineering. With Science being such a strong choice among girls, it may be helpful to share examples of how Science relies upon CS. For example, our Climate Researcher role model shared that she needs to use Python in order to better study the effects of global warming on coral reefs.  She expressed regret that she didn’t take CS courses in college and instead had the tough path of teaching herself programming while also juggling the responsibilities of a full-time research job.
  2. Think beyond robotics projects! It seems that every time I turn around, I learn of another robotics camp or curriculum option. I get it, I think robots are cool and I like that they demonstrate how written code translates to action/movement in the robots. However, our data shows that middle and high schools girls have limited interest in robotics so these projects are not the best route to spark CS interest in girls. For example, one of our featured STEM role models is a Robotics and Computer Vision engineer. This is a popular Career Quest among boys with it being on the top 5 list of most selected Careers Quests. A high percent of boys (55%) also find that the Career Quest is a best fit for their interests, values, and desired work characteristics. But among girls, only 7% select the Robotics Career Quest and of those completing the Quest only a third find it to be a best fit.
  3. Select CS projects that focus on helping people, animals, or the environment. Our data consistently shows that girls want to have a greater purpose to their work. For example, in one of our profile questions we ask girls and boys how important it is to have a greater work purpose. Girls rate this as extremely important while boys rate it as just important. This trend remains true looking at the individual job level as well. For example, the CS job that receives the highest percent of best fits among girls (67%) is the CTO of a start-up that instantly mobilizes resources to help find lost children! So to spark CS interest in girls, consider selecting projects that incorporate a greater purpose – such as helping a non-profit with their website or designing an app that solves a local community problem.

How have you increased girls’ interest in CS? We’d love to hear your ideas (info at Couragion.com).

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Teaching Java Prepares Students for Next Generation Workforce

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Teaching Java Prepares Students for Next Generation Workforce

If you are responsible for setting or influencing the strategy for STEM, Computer Science (CS), or Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculum, you might struggle to understand what industry needs and exactly how to prepare your students for the workforce. And as coding becomes increasingly more critical as a foundational skill, how do you decide which programming languages will provide the most employment opportunities for your students, especially when there are so many opinions out there about the most popular technologies? When we shared this Couragion Java Infographic (pictured also above) with our partner schools one of our amazing CTE champions responded, “This reinforces our strategies.” I hope it helps you as well!

While there are several studies regarding which programming language skills hiring entities want, we like the 2016 study conducted by New Relic and Indeed due to its huge sample size. In this study, Indeed reviewed 16 million job openings to determine which programming languages were mentioned most frequently as job requirements. Java was the clear winner - with 2,992 mentions per million listings - and this is more than the next 9 mentioned programming languages combined. According to Terence Chiu, vice president at Indeed, “It is not surprising that Java is such a popular programming language. It’s been around for a long time, runs in many computing environments, and has advantages of readability, scalability, and robustness.” I can attest to Java being around a long time as I have a Java t-shirt from the late ‘90s still in my drawer from my time distributing Sun (now Oracle) products when I worked at GE.

Job demand is one way to understand key technologies, but another important angle is what developers are using on the job. Stack Overflow conducted a Developer Survey in 2016 that included responses from over 50K developers across the globe. In fact, they proclaim it’s the most comprehensive developer survey ever conducted. The survey asks developers about what they build, which technologies they use, which jobs they hold, and the education they’ve received. Interestingly 69% of developers today are self-taught! But with your help – that will change! As Stack Overflow puts it “JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language on earth.” JavaScript emerged as one of the three core technologies of World Wide Web for content production. Initially only utilized by Front-End developers, even Full Stack and Back-End developers are more likely to use it than any other language today.

Since we are curious people, we wanted to understand what secondary schools are teaching today. So Couragion, with generous support from the National Science Foundation, conducted primary research around K-12 CS education. We were excited to find that Java and JavaScript were the two most popular programming languages being taught today by our CS educator respondents. Unfortunately, we saw disadvantages in access among regions with higher proportions of students of color or poverty levels. Here’s what we learned in numbers:

  • 53% of schools offer Java, while 42% of schools offer JavaScript
  • 57% of private schools and 52% of public schools offer Java
  • 45% of public schools and 32% of private schools offer JavaScript
  • Regions with higher populations of students of color offered Java 6% less
  • Regions with higher populations of students in poverty offered Java 17% less

What Should You Be Teaching?

Our vote based on the data is to opt for teaching your students Java and JavaScript. If you are already teaching them – congrats and keep it up! If you aren’t, here are some curriculum resources and considerations:

  1. Oracle has a great website with several resources and recommendations for younger learners.
  2. Greenfoot offers free software, a book, and an instructor community, all focused on teaching and learning Java.
  3. BlueJ is a free Java Development Environment designed for beginners.
  4. If you are looking for JavaScript resources, check out Khan Academy’s offerings.
  5. Keep abreast of reports that give insight into what hiring entities are looking for and what developers are using in their day-to-day jobs. Look not only for the most frequently mentioned languages, but also consider the year-over-year growth rates. A programming language with a large growth rate may indicate an up and coming language that will be very important in the future. In recent reports, PHP appears to be falling out of favor (especially in the enterprise) as programming languages like Node and Angular emerge.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on things – check back for more infographics and insights in this series!

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Manufacturing Jobs - Good Or Bad?

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Manufacturing Jobs - Good Or Bad?

My first engineering job was a summer internship in an automotive manufacturing facility in Canada. Hardcore work was done there to machine engine blocks. I was the only American, the only female (other than the cafeteria workers) and the youngest person on the factory floor. It was quite the introduction to life as an engineer and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t rough. But it was also fascinating to experience manufacturing firsthand. I got to work with complex machinery and automation processes that efficiently produced the engine blocks with extreme precision. I learned about lean manufacturing and quality control. I earned a very high salary. And I know that the experience made me a better engineer.

Given my manufacturing history and my current focus on STEM, I was eager to read the US Public Opinion Of Manufacturing study written by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.  This 6th release of the study provides insights about manufacturing job growth and summarizes the public’s views about the sector.

A few of the points I found most salient were…

  1. The scarcity of STEM talent is impacting manufacturing with an anticipated shortage of 2 million workers over the next 10 years.
  2. 83% of Americans believe manufacturing is important to America’s economic prosperity.
  3. Americans rank manufacturing as the third most important industry needed to maintain a strong economy.
  4. Many believe that the US manufacturing industry is high-tech, can compete globally, and will grow stronger in the long term.
  5. Yet, the public seems reluctant to choose manufacturing careers with 70% citing it was not a strong career path and only 50% believing a career in manufacturing provides good pay relative to other industries.
  6. And 1/3 of respondents would be reluctant to encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career. However those familiar with manufacturing are 2X more likely to encourage such a career for their kids.

To solve its talent shortage, the industry has some work to do to change public perceptions about the viability and attractiveness of a career in manufacturing. As the last point above highlights, building awareness is an important first step – people cannot be what they cannot see. 

We wholeheartedly agree and as such a critical component of our app is focused on showing kids jobs firsthand. The manufacturing related jobs in our app include an engineer that works in a toy factory or a physics technician that manufactures metal parts or a product designer that works with plants overseas to produce backpacks. These visual insights help build career awareness among students and their adult advocates.

Do you know a kid who might thrive in a manufacturing job? If so, help them determine if such a job is a good fit for their interests and values by building their career awareness. Expose them to potential careers in the field via our app, industry websites, or even factory tours. The manufacturing industry will thank you for helping to fuel their talent pipeline! 

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Half of U.S. Adults Regret Postsecondary Choices

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Half of U.S. Adults Regret Postsecondary Choices

Have you seen the inaugural report published in June 2017 by Gallup and Strada Education Network entitled “On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions”? I found several of the findings interesting and thought I’d share 4 key observations here:

  1. About half of all U.S. adults who pursued or completed postsecondary degrees would change at least one aspect of their experience. If they could press the reset button, they would change their major, the institution attended, or the type of degree obtained.
  2. When looking at those whose highest level of education is a bachelor's degree, 40% have second thoughts about their major.
  3. Individuals who complete a vocational, trade or technical program are more positive about their decisions than those with an associate or bachelor’s degree.
  4. STEM graduates at all education levels are the least likely to report they would make different decisions about their postsecondary education.

With this information, it’s obvious to Couragion that students need more information and guidance before making these critical education decisions. We are dedicated to helping students pursue the postsecondary options that are most relevant to their career aspirations and lifestyle goals. And those pathways are diverse and varied ranging from training to certifications to degrees. Read the complete report here for more information. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

@mristeff 

www.linkedin.com/in/risteff

Source:  http://www.gallup.com/poll/211529/half-adults-change-least-one-education-decision.aspx?utm_source=genericbutton&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=sharing 

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4 Career Activities To Do With Kids This Summer

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4 Career Activities To Do With Kids This Summer

My elementary-aged daughters had their last day of school on Friday. During breakfast that day, I introduced them to Alice Cooper’s old but relevant song – ‘Schools Out (For Summer)’.  They LOVED it – especially the line that says ‘No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks’. They are totally pumped for summer vacation and belted out this song with glee!

I too am excited for summer, but I also feel immense pressure to prepare academic activities that will help my daughters avoid the Summer Slide.  I am sure many of you feel similar pressure and so I decided to help you by providing 5 career activity ideas that you can do with kids this summer. While these activities are career focused, you can also mix in important academic practice such as literacy or reading or science!

  1. Write A Self-Reflection – have your child reflect on the school year in order to inventory their likes and dislikes. What subjects were most fun? What projects did they enjoy the most? What was their favorite field trip? In what area do they need to work harder next year? Such a list gives insight into the child’s interest and values and can be used as their checklist when evaluating potential career options. This is also a great way to integrate writing and spelling practice into their summer. For example, one of my daughters is really working hard on remembering to capitalize the first letter of sentences or proper nouns. So, I will have her focus on checking for capitalization while writing her self-reflection.
  2. Find A Career Role Model – encourage your child to look for career role models in their life. Perhaps your child can interview someone in a field they are interested in. For example, one of my daughter’s friends is interested in photography and emailed questions (aka practiced literacy skills) to one of his favorite photographers. That photographer emailed back with all sorts of insight into what it is like to have a career as a photographer! Or urge your child to visit an aunt, uncle, or family friend at work for a couple of hours. This will provide your child with ideas about career options outside of your own work area which broadens their perspective about what is possible and increases the chances that they can ultimately find a career that best matches their interests and values.
  3. See Jobs First-Hand – take your child on a tour that exposes them to careers. For example, if you have an engineer buff, there are many automotive factory tours that you can do in the United States. Or if you have a budding actor, you can find a theatre that offers ‘behind the scenes tours’. In my area, the Denver Center For Performing Arts offers guided tours that give insight into all the work that goes into putting on a performance. Such experiences not only show kids career options but also let’s them see the work environment – which can be an important factor in job satisfaction. With older kids, you can turn this into an assignment that boosts their research skills by having them find tour options via Internet searches.
  4. Acquire Skills – urge your child to acquire a new skill this summer that aligns with their career interests. Attending summer camps is a great way to do this. Our local university offers an amazing array of camps covering topics such as robotics or climate change or medical science. If camps are not an option, your child can complete online courses. Do they like to program? Check out Khan Academy’s programming classes and video overviews – like this one on Python. Are they a data geek interested in math careers? Have them complete Microsoft’s free excel training exercises. Or maybe they have an interest in architecture? Encourage them to download SketchUp (there is a free version for K-12 students) to start building their 2D and 3D design skills! You can use insights from activity 1 to guide your search for a camp or online course that is right for your child.

And lastly, a bonus tip (and shameless plug for the Couragion app)! Consider purchasing the Couragion app for your child and encourage them to complete one Career Quest each week of the summer. Our app provides an easy, virtual way to do all of the above activities. With it, your child can explore careers, see role models, experience jobs first-hand, and receive STEM skill building tips.

I hope you have an amazing summer and if you have other ideas about supporting kids’ career discovery, please message us (info at couragion.com). 

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Hidden Figures Who Encourage Future Generations

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Hidden Figures Who Encourage Future Generations

Yesterday, I was sitting in the final plenary of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Summit 2017 in Tucson, AZ. If you aren’t familiar with NCWIT – it is a community of nearly 900 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. NCWIT was chartered in 2004 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and equips change leaders with resources for recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. These people are our tribe and we’re proud to be a partner and part of the NCWIT K-12 Alliance. Lucy Sanders, their CEO and Co-Founder, and the organization have been a force and source of encouragement for Couragion’s founders for nearly two decades. In 2016, Couragion was proud to win startup of the year at the same awards ceremony where Lucy won a well-deserved lifetime achievement award.

Margot Lee Shetterly who is the researcher, entrepreneur, and the author of “Hidden Figures" was the seminal keynote. She spoke about race, gender, science, and the history of technology. Margot talked about creating the lexicon for ‘hidden figures’ as people who have contributed, were not previously acknowledged, and now deserve to be celebrated. The term as discussed is nuanced as the identities of these women were hidden as were their contributions. Margot’s commitment was in elucidating these talented woman as individuals but she also strove to intimately understand the science and technology behind their stories. It moved me and further edified Couragion’s own journey. We’ve told the stories of over 40 female STEM professionals as part of our NSF work. We’ve respected each personal journey, their vulnerability and confidence, and the paths these role models have taken.

Allison Schroeder, the screenwriter of “Hidden Figures”, was honored at the Summit right after Margot’s speech. Allison won the Reel WiT Award - an honor created by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Google, and NCWIT. She herself is a notable STEM role model who studied math at Stanford University. Allison shared a fantastic story in her acceptance speech about one of her friend’s young daughters who recently saw three young African American females walking down the street and said, “Look Mommy, astronauts!” These narratives are rarely told – and when done with this type of clarity and honor can encourage future generations. I aspire that our work continues to make a difference in classrooms and in the lives of all the students we reach and influence.  

You can continue to contribute to the conversation by leveraging NCWIT resources for recruiting, retaining, and advancing girls and women in computing. Special thanks to the incredible staff and sponsors for the Summit!

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Adults – Thank A Former Teacher This Week!

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Adults – Thank A Former Teacher This Week!

May 8 – 12, 2017 marks Teacher Appreciation Week – an event sponsored by the National PTA to celebrate teachers and deliver gratitude to them.

During this week, it is very common for people/kids to thank the their current teachers. But I bet very few of us take the opportunity to thank teachers who influenced us in the past.

I have heard more than one teacher talk about how meaningful it is when former students contact them, years later, to say thank you.  

For example, I recently attended my children’s school auction. A former student gave an inspirational speech about how the school and teachers helped shape the person she is today. She is just on the cusp of adulthood but has already helped save the life of a person and a dog. She credited her ability to do that because one of her elementary teachers believed in her and allowed her to explore her interest in a career as a paramedic/fire fighter at a very young age. This put her on an early path to seek training in the medical field and gave her the skills she needed to help out when she unexpectedly came upon a car accident. You could just see her former teachers beam and cry with joy as they listened to her heartfelt thanks!

Our role models share similar stories of how their teachers’ encouragement was a critical factor in their confidence to pursue STEM careers or other tough challenges. Here are a few examples…

  • “One of the biggest influences in my life - for me to move forward and excel - was my elementary school teacher. She was awesome, she believed in me and she encouraged me. I tended to panic and think I could not do things but she always supported and encouraged me to ‘just do it’!” - Sibel, Spacecraft Flight Software Engineer
  • “My PhD advisor was really great at teaching me how to think critically about problems and forcing me to be self-motivated!” - Carolyn, Cancer Researcher
  • “My botany professor was the first person to say ‘I see it in you, this stuff is easy for you’. He made me think of life differently in terms of what I could achieve. People would always say ‘whatever you set your mind to you can achieve’ but it wasn’t until working with him that I saw myself in a role as a professor or scientist or whatever I wanted to be!” - Violeta, Business Owner & STEM Initiatives Consultant
  • “My high school physics teacher was the one that brought me into the world of engineering. He showed me that even though it is really hard and its intimidating to do all of this physics and to go into engineering, he always said ‘YOU CAN DO THIS!’ and that is when I decided I wanted to do engineering.”  - Alexandra, Electrical Engineer
  • “When I was in 7th grade, the teacher was great at getting us out and seeing the environment instead of just sitting in a classroom and that helped me to fall in love with environmental sciences!” - Colleen, Senior Aviation Planner (Geo-Environmental focus)

Teachers – take these stories to heart and know that even if you don’t hear about it, your influence can positively shape your students’ lives even years after they were in your classroom.

And for the rest of us, I challenge you to take 5 minutes this week to reach out to a former teacher. Share with them how they positively impacted you and say thank you!

Our teachers have difficult jobs – hearing from former students can make a huge difference in helping them get through tough days! We are all counting on today’s teachers to inspire the next generation of STEM workers so let’s give them the gratitude they well deserve!

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We Need More Diverse Role Models in the Outdoor Industry

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We Need More Diverse Role Models in the Outdoor Industry

I recently met with the team at Camber Outdoors. We were talking about strategies to cultivate a more diverse talent pipeline with programs like REI’s Force of Nature, Paradigm for Parity, and Camber’s own CEO Pledge and Pitchfest in July. In looking deeper at REI’s Force of Nature campaign, one fact caught my eye. 63 percent of women said they could not think of a female outdoor role model. While making diverse role models more accessible will encourage and recruit people to head outdoors, I’d love to extend this focus to inspire more girls to join the outdoor industry workforce where they can be creative, innovative problem solvers.  

In many ways, the outdoor industry suffers from the very same optics issues that the rest of the STEM professions do. People don't understand what opportunities are available to them and the perceptions about who is welcome can be discouraging. I love that the outdoor industry is focused on changing the narrative to specifically show more diversity in outdoor media. But media isn’t just about entertaining people with magazines and movies. It’s also about the education-based media and video content that we put in front of our students every day. And when people think about the outdoor industry – STEM jobs don’t necessarily pop to mind. Deanne Buck, the Executive Director at Camber and outdoor industry role model herself, told me that the outdoor industry is about engineering and technology all wrapped in fun. I think we need to educate the incoming workforce about these opportunities they can pursue that often tap into their passions and add that fun quotient into the workplace.

This month Couragion added an amazing role model from Icelantic Skis – a company with 100% of their skis, apparel and accessories manufactured in the USA and led by another incredible exemplar CEO Annelise Loevlie. Lauren Kwan (see her pic above) is an inspirational role model in technology who owns everything from the brand identity of their organization straight down to creating the graphic design for the ski's top-sheets which is crucial to the product development lifecycle.

Couragion’s mission is to inspire underrepresented students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. 87 percent of the role models we feature in our app are traditionally underrepresented in STEM. STEM role models in the outdoor industry can range from industrial engineers who are developing gear to environmental scientists working on conservation initiatives to creatives making the next adventure film. Could this be one of your kids?

 

Sources:

REI's Force of Nature campaign http://blog.rei.com/news/force-of-nature-lets-level-the-playing-field/

Deanne Buck featured in Outdoor Magazine article about diversity https://www.outsideonline.com/2150426/outdoor-industry-too-white

Media & Diversity in the Outdoor Industry article in Outdoor Magazine https://www.outsideonline.com/2172896/why-we-need-women-outdoor-packaging

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Taking A Kid To Work On Thursday? View These Tips!

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Taking A Kid To Work On Thursday? View These Tips!

This Thursday, April 27th, is Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day (TODASTW)! It is a wonderful opportunity for kids to see a parent or mentor’s career and work environment first hand.

If you are taking a kid to work or if your students will be participating in the event, you can help them prepare by sharing these tips:

  1. Review The Day’s Plan - Prior to the event, make time to meet with the person that is taking you to work. Ask them about the agenda for the day and have them tell you about the activities you will participate in.
  2. Prepare Your Materials - Bring a notebook and pencil to take notes. Pack a water bottle and snack. Also, take a book or homework so that you have something to do during breaks or downtime during the event.
  3. Practice Your Introduction - You will meet several new people during the day. Upon meeting new people you should shake their hand, greet them and tell them your name. Practice doing this with a friend or family member.
  4. Formulate A Few Questions - Think about questions you can ask the people you meet during the day. Such as: “What is your favorite part of your job?” or “Can you show me something you do in your job?”
  5. Remember Your Manners - The people that you will interact with are volunteering their time to help you learn. Treat them with respect and kindness during the day and send a thank you card or email after the event.

You may download a print version of these tips here and for additional resources, visit the TODASTW website.

If your kids aren’t able to attend a TODASTW event, consider gifting them the Couragion app where they can see careers and work environments first hand via videos.

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