Test scores and rankings only tell part of the story. If we consider the pipeline of future engineers and scientists as an education continuum, our current STEM education approach is leaking talent at multiple points:
of US high school students are ready for college-level science1
of US high school students plan to pursue engineering in college2
of US college engineering majors eventually drop out of their program3
3. National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Indicators
Demand for talented knowledge workers is growing while careers built on routine tasks are disappearing quickly. Our world will miss out on economic and social progress if we can’t meet our growing needs with new talent. We can understand this shift by considering three key areas of change:
- The new literacy of technology. The tilt toward software-based work environments imbues every job with a technology component. The ability to create and control technology is essential for a thriving workforce.
- The economy of new ideas. Emerging markets and a new generation of consumers crave entirely new product categories. The world needs new ideas to stay in business.
- Our grand challenges. Increasing population, diminishing resources, and the sudden shift to digital infrastructure all create big problems for our graduates to solve in their lifetime. Like multiple "moon shots" for the new century, these challenges require many more high-tech workers than we produce now.