Over the next 20 years, the science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) field is projected to grow significantly. The field is growing so quickly that employers are worried there won’t be enough qualified candidates to fill these positions. Such a crisis could lead to economic setbacks and innovation delays. With STEAM permeating nearly every facet of society, the future depends upon STEAM graduates. To combat the talent shortage, parents and educators have an opportunity to encourage their students to pursue these studies.
Parents and teachers will need to think outside the box in order to inspire their students. It’s the first step toward getting them into STEAM opportunities and popular programs. Armed with creative and practical ways to spark students’ interest in the STEAM field, you can help close the talent gap and help your students move into an important career path.
Give Them the Facts
Prior to entering the workforce, some students give little, if any, consideration to salary, employer demand, and job security. And while you’d never want your students to get into a line of work just for the money, you can still lay out the facts to get them thinking about it. For example, according to the Department of Labor, the median annual wage for STEAM occupations was $85,570 in 2014. In comparison, non-STEAM jobs had a median annual wage of $47,230.
Not only is there more money in the STEAM field, but there’s more opportunity, and there will continue to be more opportunities as many STEAM jobs are projected to go unfilled due to the shortage of qualified professionals. This leaves the door (or, better yet, doors) open for your students. STEAM graduates will likely have their pick of employers and places to live.
Further, there’s more to STEAM than just mathematics and inventing new technology. For students who are more prone to artistic endeavors, they might consider careers in web design, consumer product design and engineering, architecture, and more.
Play to Their Curiosity
Another way to inspire students to meet the anticipated STEAM demand is to use the field’s mystery as a selling point. Due to changing technology and the rapid pace of innovation, the jobs of the future are largely unknown. Considering how the job market looks today in comparison to the job market a decade ago, it’s safe to say that many of the positions students will be filling have yet to be created.
Your students have the chance to be the innovators, educators, and researchers who will change the world. But before they can dream those dreams, they need to know it’s possible to make them a reality. It’s never too early (or too late) to encourage their curiosity. Fostering interest in the STEAM field begins with showing your students something interesting and includes utilizing new technology within the classroom itself. Not only does this show students the most interesting parts of technology, but it can also be beneficial to the school and teachers alike. For example, including Internet of Things technology in the classroom can help improve overall student success monitoring, mobility, organization, and more.
Highlight Role Models
To help your students better imagine their place in STEAM, you should make a point of highlighting a variety of role models from different industries and backgrounds. These real-life examples will show your students what is possible through hard work and dedication. In the minds of young people who have never been employed, a job can seem abstract. Sharing the story of someone actually doing the work makes it more concrete.
From Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to anthropologist Jane Goodall to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, there is no shortage of compelling stories from the STEAM field. Through learning about their careers and contributions, your students can better grasp the importance of STEAM.
In addition to well-known individuals, consider connecting with STEAM professionals in your community. Whether through job shadowing or speaking events, introducing your students to “normal” STEAM professionals will make their dreams seem more achievable.
Highlighting role models, encouraging curiosity, beginning at an early age, and sharing industry facts are four practical ways to inspire students to start thinking about pursuing a STEAM career. With these tactics in hand, you can effectively embolden the young people in your life to explore opportunities in STEAM.