From Spend Matters, Andrew Karpie discusses whether the focus on worker classficiation and the gig economy limited the focus on another, more important, aspect of the economy — the lack of skilled employees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Andrew writes:
I am not judging the gig economy itself. I am really asking a question about, and perhaps also judging, “us.” The question is: Have we lost our bearings? Has our attention, the span of which we know is limited, been misdirected away from something much more critical?
I am not talking about the forest or the trees. I am talking about STEM jobs and education.
A National Math and Science Initiative report, “Why Stem Matters” — not to be confused with Why Spend Matters — had some statistics to share on the subject:
- STEM job creation over the next 10 years will outpace non-STEM jobs significantly, growing 17%, as compared with 9.8% for non-stem positions.
- According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, people in STEM fields can expect to earn 26% more money on average and be less likely to experience job loss.
- The STEM degree holders also tend to enjoy higher earnings overall, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations.
- Sixty percent of the new jobs that will open in the 21st century will require skills possessed by only 20% of the current workforce.
- The U.S. may be short as many as 3 million high-skilled workers by 2018.
You read that right: The U.S. may be short as many as 3 million high-skilled workers by 2018. But it doesn’t appear that we will have a deficit of gig workers.
The report cites a number of other disturbing statistics. For example, “American universities, however, only award about a third of the bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering as Asian universities. Worldwide, the United States ranks 17th in the number of science degrees it awards.”
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