STEM needs and opportunities in education and the workplace continue to expand exponentially in the United States. In the past 16 years, STEM jobs increased by 26 percent compared to six percent across all occupations. Meanwhile, the comparatively low rates of STEM graduates require U.S. employers to rely on skilled foreign workers. The reality to be confronted is that educators -- and I include myself here -- are not yet developing the workforce needed to fill our country's STEM needs today or in the future. As a result, our graduates are not prepared to grasp the many STEM opportunities available to them.
At the same time, STEM occupations are, and will continue to be, among the top-paying positions in the nation. In 2013, workers in STEM occupations earned a median annual wage of $76,000 --- compared to a median annual wage of $35,080 for all workers (Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2014.) The bottom line is: Career positions in STEM fields are plentiful, financially lucrative, and increasing at a much faster pace than other occupations, yet there are not enough American workers to fill them.