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Closing the STEM Gap to Grow the AEC Industry

Friday, July 27, 2012

The United States is facing a coming gap in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. STEM-capable individuals have traditionally been the pipeline of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, which spurs economic growth and prosperity. This gap must be closed for American companies to be competitive in an increasing global marketplace. The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry will have a critical need for STEM specialists as the economy recovers and construction activity increases.

According to Georgetown University, in 2018, one in 20 jobs will be a STEM job in the United States. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) projected that by 2018, the US will have more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM fields.  In addition, the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council predicts that 80 percent of jobs in the next 10 years will require specialized technology skills.

However, the US education system has left high school students preparing to enter college lagging in math and science. Both are critical to success in STEM fields in higher education. According to Knewton, the high students from the United States ranked 31st in science and 23rd in math out of a total of 65 industrialized nations on Earth. With the United States current rankings and predicted path, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that only 16 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded will be in a STEM field. At the current pace of STEM education, there will not be enough qualified and specialized people for the STEM jobs required in the future United States economy.

There are recently launched Federal Government initiatives to combat this trend of STEM losses. The current administration is calling for the recruitment of 100,000 new STEM teachers over the next decade.  According to the United States Department of Commerce, federal initiatives to support STEM include:

-Addressing  STEM cracks in education by Widening Implementation and Demonstration of Evidence based Reforms (WIDER) – a measure supported by the National Science Foundation
-National Science Foundation’s Career -Life Balance Initiatives
-Make college more affordable through American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and federal funding to community colleges
-Race to the Top Fund, a measure to provide grants to STEM education programs

MMC Contractors is contributing to closing the STEM gap through the following measures:

-Raising awareness of the STEM gap through MMC Contractors' online footprint
-Hiring a Vice President of Talent to grow the MMC Contractors team and build the best team, including STEM specialists
-Supporting employee participation in STEM-related activities - for example, Chris Schaller of the Kansas City office competed at the SkillsUSA National Leadership Skills Conference in 2011