STEM talent in U.S. not enough to meet job demands

Despite the push to improve education in science and technology, the United States is still not producing enough workers to fill current and future jobs, according to a national report released Wednesday.

The report on STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is the first of its kind completed by U.S. News and World Report with support from Raytheon, and it tracks STEM jobs and education since the year 2000.

During that time STEM employment has risen by more than 30 percent in the country to 16.8 million jobs in those fields, but high school student aptitude and interest in pursuing STEM hasn’t kept up with the demand for workers. In fact, high school student interest levels in STEM have fallen below where they were in 2000.

The report's findings come a week after business executives told Georgia leaders that the available pool of employees for technology jobs in the state is too shallow. In some cases the companies are having to import talent from other states to fill the positions.

“When you look at relative progress that the U.S. has made … it’s been meager at best over the last 14 years,” Brian Kelly, the editor and chief content officer with U.S. News, said during a conference call with reporters. “(The report) really does put in numbers and graphics what we suspected: that we have a current and ongoing problem with developing the talent we really need.”

Other findings in the STEM index:

  • Between 2000 and 2013, an average of 37.6 percent of high school males reported an interest in at least one STEM discipline; while 14.8 percent of females reported interest.
  • In 2013, the average SAT math score for white students was 534, compared with 461 for Hispanic students and 429 for black students. The ACT science score was 22 for white students, 18.8 for Hispanic students and 16.9 for black students.

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