By: Gary Wixom
Assistant Commissioner for Career and Technical Education
Utah System of Higher Education
Over the last few years, we have heard a lot about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) occupations. There is no question that STEM occupations are critical to the United States economic competitiveness. Although the number of STEM related occupations represents a small percentage of the total job market, those jobs tend to be occupations that are closely tied to innovation, economic growth and productivity, which are essential elements for any economy to be successful.
Even though STEM jobs will be a small percentage of the jobs available in the future, it is a very important percentage, and we need to make sure that we have enough students prepared to move into these occupations. STEM jobs refer to jobs that are available in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). However, when the term “STEM” is used, most often people immediately think of Science, Engineering and Math. What happened to the “Technology”?
The “Technology” category includes any occupation that requires technical skill, and makes up nearly 50 percent of all STEM occupations. Here are some of the areas that fit into the Technology sector: Accountants, Automotive Technicians, Biotechnology Technicians, Chemical Technicians, Drafting Technicians, Dietetic Technicians, Electronic Technicians, Farm and Ranch Managers, CNC Technicians, Composite Technicians, Mechatronic Technicians, Graphic Designers, Computer and Software Technicians, and the areas of Information Technology. Opportunities in the Technology sectors will continue to increase over the next few years.
Students who are interested in pursuing careers in “Technology” need to get started in high school by taking science and math courses. Sometimes the thought of taking these courses make students think twice about going down this path. However, even those who struggle in these subjects can still be successful in STEM careers. There are many ways to build skills in math and science. Students should look for programs that offer mentoring or tutoring in these subjects. Student organizations can also help, so think about joining a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSOs), DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, and TSA. Also, there are courses that can be taken in the evening or the summers that will help build the basic skills that are necessary to be “College and Career” ready.
During the next five years, the demand for students who have the background to move into Science, TECHNOLOGY, Engineering, and Mathematics careers will increase. Wages paid for these occupations will continue to lead wages in all occupations. Take advantage of these opportunities. Think about choosing a CTE Pathway that will lead to an exciting STechnologyEM career.
Read more about the demand for TECHNOLOGY occupations in the STEM Georgetown University Executive Summary.