These results are self-defeating. STEM fields represent the jobs of the future.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, science and technology-related occupations are growing at around twice the rate of the overall U.S. workforce. Take software developers — the number of jobs in this field is expected to grow 22 percent by 2022, much faster than the 11 percent growth anticipated across all occupations. And these are available, good-paying jobs.
The median annual wage for a software developer in 2012 was $93,350. Between 2009 and 2012 across the STEM occupations, there were 1.9 job openings for every unemployed person, according to a study released by Change the Equation, a CEO-led initiative to drive STEM learning in the U.S. During that same period, the broader labor-market situation remained far different. The country's unemployment rolls included 3.6 unemployed individuals for each available job.
A Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce analysis found that by 2018, there will be as many as 2.4 million job openings for STEM occupations, with four out of five of these jobs requiring at least some form of postsecondary education.
In the United States, we're failing to train our kids to be proficient in math and science. Students who do take STEM courses often pursue different lines of work and employers needing to fill STEM-related jobs are already reporting difficulty finding workers. How can we possibly be expected to meet the demand for STEM workers going forward?
As a nation we can and must do more. Policymakers must help create opportunities for STEM education, through funding measures such as the America Competes Act. The law, first passed in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010, invested in innovation and STEM education, making America more competitive. The country also needs modernized immigration policies, including the ability to "staple" a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students graduating from U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees. And private industry certainly must contribute.
At Cognizant, we believe deeply in unleashing a desire to learn the necessary skills to thrive in the rapidly changing global economy. That belief is at the heart of our "Making the Future" education initiative, in which Cognizant has distributed more than $5 million to nonprofit organizations across the country supporting in-school, after-school, and summer programs for children. Cognizant recently awarded 33 new grants to nonprofits aiming to inspire the next generation of America's technology leaders and entrepreneurs. The grants will enable students — particularly underserved minorities and girls — in 22 states to receive more than 300,000 hours of high-quality STEM education across a diverse range of topics, including electronics, robotics, computer programming, digital fabrication, 3D printing, and wearable technology.