Employers are struggling to find the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) employees they need.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics STEM jobs will have grown by more than a million from 2012 to 2022. A qualified STEM workforce is not only important to our economy it is also a matter of national security and is critical to an ever increasing technology-focused military.
Current efforts to meet workplace and military needs are focusing on middle schools, high schools, tech schools and courses at the college and university level but a growing body of research suggests STEM proficiency begins much earlier.
Access to high-quality pre-k is an important part of nurturing a STEM skilled workforce. Unfortunately, far too few of Pennsylvania’s young learners have access to publicly funded high-quality pre-k. Approximately 175,000 Pennsylvania 3- and 4-year-olds risk academic failure due to living in lower-income households. And nearly 64 percent of those 3- and 4- year olds- about 113,000 children- lack access to programs like PA Pre-K Counts and Head Start each year. This lack of access represents missed opportunities for these children and contributes to the STEM skills gap.
In order to bridge this gap, Pennsylvania business and military leaders support expanded access to high-quality pre-k for all at-risk children and more middle-income families.
If America does not produce enough young people who can meet the STEM needs of both the private sector and the military, both our economy and our national security could suffer. Pennsylvania policymakers can help build the STEM pipeline for the future by investing in broader access to high-quality per-k today.
Please contact Bill Shoffler at firstname.lastname@example.org to become and ally in the PreK for PA campaign.
I thank my friends and colleagues at The Council for A Strong America for supplying the data used in this article.