STEM skills are needed in the workforce, but schools may soon have a difficult time finding educators to teach these skills to students interested in pursuing STEM careers.
According to a recent article from the Journal Sentinel, the Harris poll from Milwaukee-based ASQ has found that 90% of parents would encourage their children to pursue careers in STEM, but not teaching jobs in those fields. In a separate ASQ survey of educators, only 29% said they would encourage their own children to pursue a STEM teaching career.
Without STEM teachers, it will be impossible to prepare students with the skills needed to meet the high demand for workers in STEM related fields. So, why discourage students from pursuing STEM teaching careers?
According to the Harris survey, pay is a huge factor. The survey says 55% of parents said they would be more likely to encourage their children to pursue that career path if there was higher pay and better compensation. Furthermore, 65% of the parents said that a STEM teaching career might not be worth the cost of a college degree, and 67% said the teaching positions might not offer a path for career advancement.
“It’s understandable that many parents are concerned about their children’s ability to pay off college debt or live a comfortable life, but we have to be mindful that not encouraging students to pursue a STEM teaching career … could greatly impact the overall quality of STEM education, and all STEM careers,” said Laurel Nelson-Rowe, ASQ’s managing director — global business development.
Nationwide, only a small percentage of students currently in the ninth grade eventually will earn a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering and math, even as thousands of people retire from those fields in the next decade.
Without STEM teachers, students will never learn the skills needed to support technological growth and innovation. Even with the most engaging STEM technology helping to support STEM learning in K-12 classrooms, students need teachers to help inspire and foster creativity.
As the need for skilled STEM workers continues to increase, there is a possibility that better salaries will be offered to STEM teachers in order to encourage students to pursue that career path. Until then, it is important for both parents and educators to recognize the vital role STEM educators play in inspiring students to pursue careers that may one day change the world. Students should be encouraged to pursue all STEM careers, including teaching.
To learn more about inspiring STEM learning in K-12 schools, check out the following article: Secrets to Successfully Implementing a STEM Program.