The field of manufacturing is quickly growing. As it continues to rapidly expand and develop, thousands of jobs are in turn opening in the industry. In fact, there are currently 12.4 million Americans employed in manufacturing, and the numbers are continuing to rise. However, despite those numbers, there are thousands of positions that continue to go unfilled due to lack of career readiness.

While STEM careers continue to be a lucrative and stable career path, there seems to be a decrease in interest and people to fill the positions that will be available in the industry. There is and will continue to be a need for more qualified individuals for positions that provide good money. This situation makes industry professionals like our team members at Leading Edge Industrial ask, “why?”.

Investigating Pre-Collegiate STEM Education

The fact is, many schools are implementing CTE education programs, which have resulted in growing student interest. According to a poll from Phi Delta Kappa, technology and engineering classes are a huge priority to Americans when it comes to educational options in schools. Where STEM education used to be exclusively available to students in college and higher-level education—and many assume that remains true—today, technology and engineering classes are being added to the curriculum in many schools. This attempt to integrate STEM education into pre-collegiate education for students is a huge step in increasing educational quality within the United States.

Senate Bill 198

The Indiana Senate passed a bill which would help eighth-graders in 15 school corporations find and pursue their calling with a program called Indiana Career Explorer. Students would take an aptitude test that would help them discover a career path in which they have the most interest and will succeed. The test would recommend a field of interest, and the student could then decide which area of that field they would be interested in pursuing. Then the program would provide information about requirements and certificates, where to obtain them, details about the process, etc.  This is a fantastic step in filling STEM career positions as the program may provide information to those who have an aptitude for manufacturing or engineering but may never have considered those paths before.

In addition to helping students find rewarding future careers, according to The Star Press, this bill may help fill a million Indiana jobs that will be available in the next 10 years.

So Why is There a Shortage of Qualified STEM Workers?

While there appears to be increasing interest and educational opportunities for students who may want to pursue STEM fields further, many schools still lack the resources needed to give their students the opportunities they need to understand those career paths. It’s a slow process, but there is also another issue.

A Major Shortage of Qualified Instructors

There is simply a shortage of educators to meet the demand of this area in education. According to the website, Change the Equation, 91% of states “report using alternative certification policies or lighter licensing requirements to address the issue of CTE teacher shortages despite potential risks to students.”

Taking Steps Toward More STEM Courses

The good news is that there is a higher demand for pre-collegiate education in STEM careers, although there are many hurdles that must be cleared in order to succeed in improving education in these areas. Consistent improvement may help this situation before the skills gap becomes too much of an issue, but it’s crucial that these improvements are made quickly. Here at Leading Edge Industrial, we are thrilled that schools are taking steps toward offering more STEM education courses earlier on, and we are eager to offer the necessary training in our area of expertise to teachers and instructors.

Interested? Feel free and check out our upcoming courses and classes. We can’t wait to hear from you!