Inspiring a Future-Ready STEM Workforce

Investing in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — is essential for Wisconsin and our nation in order to compete in the global economy and to ensure a productive future for our children.

Today’s students are the technology experts of tomorrow. By exposing them to hands-on activities, applied-learning experiences and a network of professionals, they will have everything they need to flex their innovative muscles and fuel the most in-demand, high-earning careers out there.

STEM Forward’s programs, events and activities inspire local youth to pursue STEM careers and provide a pipeline of talent to businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. We also establish partnerships with STEM employers and educators, enhancing curriculums at local schools.

GROWING OPPORTUNITIES, FEW CANDIDATES

Studies indicate that STEM jobs are expected to grow 55 percent faster than non-STEM jobs in the next 10 years. According to Glassdoor, STEM majors top the list when it comes to the highest paying careers. One example is computer science, with a median base salary of $70,000 during the first five years after college graduation.

In the Milwaukee area alone, more than 20 percent of jobs were STEM-related in 2011, and that number is growing. On average, STEM workers made $29,616 more each year compared to those in non-STEM positions in metropolitan Milwaukee, according to data from the Brookings Institution.

Unfortunately many industry employers – manufacturing, construction, engineering, IT and health care firms – report not being able to find workers with STEM skills.

Even more troubling is that a 2015 OECD PISA assessment reported that American kids are plenty fired up to be scientists, with 38 percent of 15-year-olds saying they expect to work in a science-related career. The average among OECD countries is 24 percent. But they aren’t very good at it — American 15-year-olds ranked 19th in science, out of 35 OECD countries. (And that was better than they did in reading and math, where they ranked 20th and 31st, respectively).

Findings also show that women and minorities represent a very small percentage of STEM workers. Although the overall face of the workforce throughout the country is changing – particularly with a higher representation of younger and minority individuals – the demographics of STEM fields have remained largely unchanged. This is problematic because studies show that groups with greater diversity solve complex problems better and faster than homogenous groups. To solve this issue, we need to create more inclusive learning environments for women and minorities in STEM.

Wisconsin and our nation faces a crisis in the performance, participation of our students in STEM, creating a widely documented talent shortage. Now, more than ever, preparing youth for STEM skills for an increasingly technology-driven world is critical for all stakeholders.

BUSINESSES BUILD A TALENT PIPELINE, EMPLOYEE MORALE & DIVERSITY

By investing in STEM education, business partners are able to shape their future workforce early on, developing a pipeline of talent.

Businesses also benefit by allowing their employees to take part in philanthropy. Research shows that a majority of millennials say their decision to accept a job was influenced by an employer's philanthropic or service-based initiatives, according to a report from Achieve and the Case Foundation.

“Outreach in schools focused on STEM enables our employees to share their knowledge and help get young people excited about their future, innovation and possibilities. STEM Forward is a good partner in making connections and devising programs to fuel the future STEM workforce.”
— Kelly Skindzelewski, Community Relations Leader, GE Healthcare

Employees, and especially millennials, want to give back to their community, and allowing them to do so creates a satisfying workplace and improves retention.

By having employees share their knowledge with others, businesses can better prepare our youth for STEM careers, and help teachers enhance their current STEM curriculum.

“Employee engagement in the community builds team work and connects professionals to new experiences which can lead to many things,” said Kelly Skindzelewski, Community Relations Leader, GE Healthcare. “Outreach in schools focused on STEM enables our employees to share their knowledge and help get young people excited about their future, innovation and possibilities. STEM Forward is a good partner in making connections and devising programs to fuel the future STEM workforce.”

According to city of Milwaukee data, Milwaukee’s younger population is largely minority. Minority children under 10 years of age, for example, outnumber white children three to one. STEM Forward’s programming and events provide Milwaukee children with exposure to STEM careers and role models that they are unlikely to receive in their everyday lives. By partnering with STEM Forward, businesses can inspire more minorities to pursue STEM careers, boosting diversity in the workplace.

SCHOOLS GET PROFESSIONAL EXPERTS, MORE RESOURCES

Many of STEM Forward’s programs and events help partner businesses and schools, providing students with professional experts and additional resources. For example, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) STEM Partners, was created as a direct result of STEM Forward’s sySTEMnow Conference. This group provides opportunities for Milwaukee’s business community to interact with MPS students on meaningful projects and activities.

MPS STEM Partners has grown to include over 40 active businesses and post-secondary partners, exposing MPS students not only to the technical opportunities in STEM fields, but also providing the local face of potential employers.

Another way for schools to get professional experts and resources is to participate in STEM Forward’s Day of Engineering program, which provides an opportunity for businesses and schools to partner in a unique one-day format.

These types of partnerships allow students to get real-world experience in STEM while exposing them to careers that they may have never considered before.

BE A PHILANTHROPIST, SUPPORT STEM

Many of STEM Forward’s programs and events rely on volunteers, STEM mentors, and financial assistance – and that’s how you can help us support and invest in STEM.

Learn more about current STEM Forward volunteer opportunities.

Additionally, our 501 c(3) nonprofit organization serves as a resource to keep everyone informed on what’s happening in STEM throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about STEM events, programming and volunteer opportunities in the community.

STEM Forward’s programs and events help educate and inspire a future-ready STEM workforce. Your generous, tax-deductible donation will help us achieve our vision and provide access to quality STEM programs in southeastern Wisconsin.

The time for action is now!