Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are inarguably the foundation and backbone of our world and life as we know it. They are constantly interfacing tools of evolution, globalization and interconnectivity built on the backs of observation, experimentation, design, building and application, changing the world through ground-breaking innovation, modernizing the way we live and ensuring the continuity of mankind.
STEM is vital across all industries and is constantly transforming and influencing; agriculture, manufacturing, communication, transportation, banking, medicine, marketing, investment, insurance, politics, government and consumer choices. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Big Data, Predictive Analytics, the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, and Block chain technology are just some of the tools and technologies powering digital, technological and scientific evolution and bridging gaps across the world.
Recent years has seen African governments exploring technology through agricultural mechanization and other strategic efforts like providing funding and incentives to encourage large scale localized farming and consumption of home grown produce as a means of promoting agriculture with the end goal of job creation, reducing food importation and strengthening food security in Africa.
The projections for 2020 in Africa promises enormous growth in the areas of global electrification, solar energy, telecommunications, healthcare and the internet of everywhere’. Career wise the future is very bright as well, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) which published its most recent list of National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates at the end of March 2019. Healthcare jobs headed the list of the highest-paying occupations with CEOs, engineers and information system managers coming in close. The top 10 jobs all belonged to science; 14 out of the top 25 jobs with engineering and technology next in line. Healthcare occupation is projected to grow 18% from 2016 to 2026—adding about 2.4 million new jobs.
- Linkedin found the most in-demand skills for 2019 are in technical skills categories like cloud computing, artificial intelligence and analytical reasoning.
- According to CNBC there are 700,000 unfilled IT jobs in the US as at November 1st 2019.
- Findings by CompTIA indicates that there are 11.8 million net tech employment in the US, 261,000 new jobs added in tech in the past year, 1.5 million software and web developers –the largest and fastest growing category of tech jobs, 3.7 million tech related job postings in 2018 alone, 1.8 trillion as the estimated economic output of the tech industry and 525,000 tech business establishments in the US.
- There are an estimated 600,000 technology vacancies in the UK with 52% business claiming it is hard to find the talent they need to fill the roles.
Tech industry experts have continued to decry the huge talent shortage – there simply aren’t enough individuals with the right digital skills to fill the numerous roles available.
This is an indication of the tremendous amount of work still to be done in encouraging our bright young minds to embrace and explore STEM subjects at all levels so they can potentially fill the skills gap in the science and tech industries, apply their skills to developing scalable solutions to local and global challenges and ensure improved quality of life and Socio-economic development.
The government and organisations should provide accessible resources and opportunities to colleges and schools to encourage them to understand what it is like to work in technology and the ways in which they can add value. Interactive sessions at local colleges and IT training to gain work experience will help encourage students develop their STEM skillsets.
Children should also be introduced to STEM subjects early on in fun and interactive ways that help build enthusiasm for the subjects. In addition to maintaining a robust STEM curriculum, schools should create learning opportunities outside of the classroom such as after-school clubs or programs, camps or tutoring. Companies should also create training opportunities to equip staff with necessary skills to get the job done.
The demand for specialist skills like data science and data engineering has increased significantly, mainly due to the growth in adoption by organisations of data-driven strategies to derive business value. The use of mobile and online learning tools including smartphones and tablets is still a thing at the primary and university levels where the use of personal technologies with instruction has become an integral part of the learning process.
Gamification and alternative or immersive environments is another trend to watch out for. Greater interest in advanced courses in mathematics and science also seems to be a long term thing as students are focusing more on science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the classroom, and the real world.
The future of STEM looks brighter than ever as educationists, government and corporations seem increasingly focused on encouraging students’ interest through innovative and relatable STEM initiatives including experimentation, robotics, coding or even low-tech group activities that model the experience of solving engineering problems in the real world.
Google is working to support education through their products, programs, and philanthropy, like their G Suite for Education tool, Google Cloud Platform geared towards understanding student success, boosting research, or improving infrastructure with secure, easy-to-use tools. Chromebooks to make learning more effective and engaging with simple, secure, and shareable devices that teachers and students can use to create and collaborate.
Google’s higher Ed Solution is powering advanced research, breakthrough discoveries, and learning opportunities at colleges and universities. Also available are teaching resources to empower learning in the classroom, a broad selection of apps, activities, lesson plans, digital literacy tools, and games to advance learning in the classroom including virtual field trips, lessons on coding, coding & CS Creativity Tools and more.
Google’s K-12 solutions help teachers and students create, collaborate, and build digital skills for the future. Elementary schools now have laptops and assignments that include building websites at a young age. There are even toys for kids now that introduce them to the concept of coding. If life as we know it is to continue and evolve it is imperative that the ongoing trend of introducing our children to STEM subjects at an early age be accelerated for the good of mankind and the preservation of our world.