My business partners and I are sometimes asked why we chose to focus on STEM careers in the Couragion application. There are a host of reasons for this focus, some of which we talk about in the employability section of our website. With this blog post, I wanted to cover two additional reasons.
The first reason being that STEM is not just for ‘geeks’. I was really strong in math and science classes as a kid, so early on I was encouraged by teachers and family members to pursue engineering. I think the encouragement I received made me more likely to sign-up for the higher-level courses and work harder to succeed in such classes.
But what about the kid that doesn’t display the traditional outward signs of geekiness? Might they too be right for a STEM career? Our belief is that with the 100s of types of STEM jobs available, chances are high that the answer is yes! The key is that kids need to know what type of opportunities exist and they need to do self-discovery to determine which careers best match their interests, values, and desired work characteristics. Our role as educators and families is to help kids do such career exploration as well as offer STEM encouragement to all kids, not just the geeks.
The second reason is that we see STEM as much more expansive than the narrow definitions that are often used in career cluster models. We believe that STEM competencies are important in most jobs. And data supports our belief. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that over 80 percent of the fastest-growing occupations* are dependent on knowledge of mathematics and science. With STEM competencies being important to a large majority of jobs, it is important for all kids (not just the geeks) to take the tough math and science courses. In our app’s videos, the STEM role models share the types of classes that are important for their jobs – and every single role model mentions some sort of math or science class - from calculus to physics to biology. We feel that showing kids the applicability of their current course work to their long-term job prospects is one way to encourage them to sign-up for and work hard in the STEM classes that will be critical to their employability.
In summary, because of the vast array of STEM jobs available and because of the importance of STEM competencies to all career clusters we felt it was essential to help kids see they type of opportunities in STEM and motivate both geeks and non-geeks to pursue critical math and science skills.
I welcome your thoughts on this topic. You can chime in with a comment below or reach me via twitter (@laurafarrelly) or email (laura at couragion.com).