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Between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. will need to fill over 2.6 million STEM job openings.
Beyond the opportunities, STEM pay is good. According to the report, 93 out of 100 STEM occupations had wages “significantly above” the national average; the average STEM wage was $87,570, compared to an average of $45,700 for non-STEM occupations.
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Sean Joseph Creighton, president of the Kettering-based Southwestern Ohio Council of Higher Education, said that demand for STEM-qualified workers is felt locally.
“Absolutely we’re seeing definite growth in this area, and I feel like we’ve been seeing it for a while,” he said.
SOCHE — a consortium of 23 colleges and universities — has invested in scholarship programs, regional STEM schools, efforts to build interest among students and training for teachers, Creighton said.
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In our region, STEM is really important because of the large cluster of advanced manufacturing and aerospace companies, he said.
Locally, the area is graduating more students in STEM fields, Creighton said.
According to SOCHE, 2,368 undergraduate STEM degrees were awarded locally in 2016, above the 2,105 awarded in 2015 — which itself was well above the 1,195 degrees awarded in 2014.
“There has been a lot more time and attention and coaching in those areas,” he said.
However, the U.S. Department of Education found that nationally only 16 percent of high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in a STEM career.
Monica Eaton-Cardone, an IT executive focusing nationally in risk management and fraud prevention, advocates for STEM education.
“Schools need to take a more comprehensive and creative approach to STEM education, with relevant training for teachers at all grade levels and rigorous efforts to engage students in these subjects,” Eaton-Cardone said. “It’s also important to give pupils — especially girls — a better understanding of STEM applications and role models.”