Facing a Skills Gap, STEM Companies Take the Lead in Building Future Workforce

By: Jamie Berman, Senior Account Executive

The substantial deficiency of qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and manufacturing workers in the U.S. has created a worrisome gap which will result in serious workforce and pipeline issues for companies in the technology, manufacturing and engineering spaces and beyond. STEM education remains a hot-button issue as the U.S. continues to fall behind its foreign peers when it comes to STEM job training and preparedness – especially in mathematics – and more and more companies are feeling compelled to do something about it.

STEM education advocacy, curriculum development and mentorship are becoming the go-to corporate responsibility focus of many companies that operate in the U.S. From promoting early access and hands-on learning to steering girls toward mentorship, here are a few companies making consistent, impactful efforts to bolster the country’s STEM literacy and future workforce:

  • IBM co-developed P-TECH, a transformative six-year school model that opened in one of Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods in 2011. P-TECH’s first six students all graduated ahead of schedule with both high school and associates degrees (the latter in STEM fields) and job offers. There are now 60 P-TECH schools, each using IBM’s free-of-charge P-TECH playbook. The playbook is actually a web hub designed to help school districts, universities and businesses establish new P-TECH schools by replicating IBM’s education model.
  • Bayer’s* Making Science Make Sense (MSMS) program not only provides hands-on learning opportunities for students, but also shares resources to help their parents and teachers break down barriers to STEM education. As part of the MSMS program, Bayer releases its annual Facts of Science Education survey to monitor the state of science education in the U.S.
  • Lockheed Martin is committed to bolstering student achievement, teacher development and gender and ethnic diversity through its many STEM partnerships, including but not limited to the National Geographic Society, DonorsChoose, Project Lead the Way and FIRST. Lockheed Martin also supports Imagine Science, a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club of America, the National 4-H Council, YMCA of the USA and Girls Inc. with the goal of jointly tackling the challenge of engaging under-represented youth in STEM learning. 
  • Qualcomm’s efforts are focused primarily on diversity and underrepresented students. Its Thinkabit Lab makerspace has given hands-on STEM opportunities to more than 10,000 students. Qualcomm is also a major sponsor of FIRST®* and teams nationwide, as well as being the presenting sponsor of FIRST® Championship. Its Qcamp program is a free, intensive opportunity to solidify middle school-aged girls’ interest in the fields.

These companies are taking the lead in providing innovative, impactful STEM learning opportunities, curriculum, mentorship and more. What’s more, research shows that these approaches work – for example, FIRST reports that its students are twice as likely to major in science or engineering; 98 percent report improved problem-solving skills; and 75 percent of its alumni are either studying or working in a STEM field. By equipping the future workforce with the knowledge and resources it needs to succeed, organizations are proactively addressing their own talent pipeline needs while doing their part to bolster the U.S. economy in a competitive playing field.

*Cone client