Is STEM education declining in the U.S.?

Is STEM education declining in the U.S., and to what effect?

It may not have been as required in the economy 40 years ago, but now, it is skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) which can make a school leaver or graduate an enticing prospect to employers -- even more important when faced with a stagnant economy.

However, whether enough is being done to make these subjects appealing to children is under debate. A recent report by the European Commission highlighted these concerns -- the problem existing in both Europe and the United States. The EC estimates that by 2015, at least 700,000 young people will leave education without basic skills in STEM -- and furthermore, jobs requiring these skills will rise by 16 million by 2020.

Without a generation equipped and qualified to fill these posts, both global and local economies will suffer. As the infographic provided by Teach.com suggests, in part this issue could be remedied by reinvigorating interest in STEM subjects early.

Interest and subsequent funding for STEM subjects began when Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. From this point, investment expanded in the form of scholarships, schemes, training and private funds.

STEM growth continued until 1992, when it began to suffer a decline in the U.S. over the following ten years.

In 2009, American students ranked 23rd globally in science, and 31st in mathematics in standards of education and qualifications.

If this kind of trend continues, then the kind of economic stagnation we are now currently experiencing may not recover to the degree of footing it has the potential for -- as education and innovation are the backbones of true economic growth.

Image credit: Teach.com

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