Written by: Reagan Flowers, Ph.D.
It is projected that there will be one million STEM jobs by the end of the decade. This new data shows that STEM careers are showing as much potential as when I founded C-STEM more than two decades ago. Therefore, the need to level the playing field for students with less opportunity is more significant than ever.
Over the years, it’s been an honor to see our C-STEM alumni build STEM careers and pay it forward to the next generation. I look forward to seeing this continue for many years to come. That starts with continuing to evaluate where the opportunities lie, then identifying how we can prepare underrepresented students to take advantage of these opportunities.
I often speak about how promising pursuing STEM is for our young people, but I want to dive deeper into the tangible details of these possibilities this month. With technology touching nearly every industry and STEM changing as the world does, these are the career paths we can count on for the future.
Beyond Counting Jobs
The availability of STEM jobs is crucial, but there are also many more positive aspects of the outlook for these careers. Here are just a few:
- STEM jobs are growing more quickly than other jobs. There are expected to be 11% more STEM jobs in the coming years than 8% for different types of jobs.
- Unemployment is lower for STEM jobs. At their highest in 2020, STEM jobs showed an unemployment rate of 9%, while other jobs came in at 16%.
- STEM jobs pay more — an average of more than nearly $90,000 compared to around $40,000 for non-STEM jobs.
- STEM jobs are needed just as much in rural areas as in bigger cities.
Variety of Work
When you look at the growing careers in STEM, you’ll find that the opportunities span a wide range. For example, the fastest-growing STEM jobs over the last five years are categorized as Computer User Support, Industrial Engineering, Information Security, and Civil Engineering. Each of these areas added more than 35,000 jobs between 2015 and 2019.
Over the coming decade, even more, opportunities will continue to open up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the most robust growth in Computers & Mathematics, Architecture and Engineering. Thanks to COVID-19, Life, Physical, and Social Science are included in the most robust projected growth areas.
This is why at C-STEM we continue to evolve our curriculum offerings over time. There is great variety in the number of types of STEM jobs and evolution within each industry. Just look at the changes in the world over the past five years. There is now chat support on nearly every company website, electric cars are becoming more mainstream, and doctor’s offices are all using touchless thermometers. It is essential to introduce students to today’s STEM advancements and jobs and those coming in the future.
Taking Advantage of Local Growth
The statistics and possibilities I’ve mentioned at a national level are exciting. At C-STEM, we’ve been able to help students around the country. However, that all starts here at home, with what we can accomplish at a local level.
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As an organization that provides resources that complement and supplement the work of schools, we are fortunate that so many STEM-focused companies are dedicated to giving back to their communities. We are honored to have several corporate partners who directly give back to our students here in the Houston area. You’ll often see the results of these partnerships highlighted in our monthly newsletter.
When the STEM community in Houston continues to grow, so do our efforts. Ultimately, we can help more students in more ways each year. That’s why it’s so exciting that Houston has been named in the Top 20 in the 2021 STEM Job Growth Index. This ranking measures the projected momentum of STEM in our community. One highlight mentioned in the index is opening the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise corporate headquarters in Houston next year. Our area will welcome 3,000 employees with this company.
That’s just a tiny piece of the puzzle, however. The true magic is in how our businesses, PreK-12 schools, colleges, and organizations work together to move STEM forward. Also part of this effort are parents, supporters, and volunteers. Every member of the C-STEM community, and the greater Houston STEM community, is committed to ensuring all our students have the opportunities they deserve.
We will continue to monitor the evolution of STEM and where we can make the most significant impact for PreK-12 students. In the meantime, I commend you, our C-STEM family, on the amazing things we see happening in Houston. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve continued to band together with us and support us in making a difference. Even greater things are yet to come.