The demand for jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math is growing and those areas are projected to add as many as 1 million jobs by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Connecting young Hispanics, one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in America, to those jobs is critical to the success of America's role as a leading innovator—and also to the success of the economy.
"It's not actually about altruism, it's completely about our economic future," said Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, at an Atlantic/National Journal event underwritten by Microsoft on Hispanic millennials in STEM fields on Thursday. "We can't hope to have the kind of economic growth that the president is shooting for, that we're all aiming for, if we're not adequately preparing the students who are coming up today."
Minorities and women are historically underrepresented in STEM fields. The Hispanic share of the U.S. workforce grew from 3 percent in 1970 to 15 percent in 2011, yet Hispanics only accounted for 7 percent of the STEM workforce in 2011, according to Census Bureau data.
The event also featured a panel and an interview where the guest speakers agreed that boosting minority and especially Hispanic representation in STEM fields requires a holistic approach that supports students from the beginning to the end of their education.