Employers in every sector have emphasized the need for a well-rounded, highly skilled workforce. Recent survey data indicates that over 90% of business leaders think American workers are not as skilled as they need to be. According to the Business Roundtable, CEOs around the country have noticed a particular gap in “employability skills” such as effective communication, critical thinking,teamwork, and problem-solving.
At an after-school STEM club in Rhode Island, students are working on an engineering challenge -- because they want to be. The low-stakes, fun environment offers time for exploration when resources or hands-on activities may be in short supply during school hours, and can help sustain interest as classes get harder. Special correspondent Lisa Stark of Education Week reports.
To spark students’ interest in science and technology, some school districts have turned to afterschool programs focused on STEM. Now, some suggest the success of these programs could be instructive when making changes to in-school STEM programs.
Big manufacturing companies in Alabama are looking for skilled workers for jobs they say they can’t fill. After-school programs can provide the connection, he said, because they engage kids in a different way than school does. In schools, kids are doing reading, writing and arithmetic, Morin said. “They don’t see the real-world relevance [of what they’re studying],” he said.
Using extracurricular activities and after-school programs to pique students' interests in science, technology, engineering and math careers is a common trend. An initiative, "Ignite My Future in Schools," takes a different approach by encouraging teachers to incorporate STEM activities into their day-to-day classroom syllabi and make classes more interactive for students.
While many classrooms and internship programs are actively trying to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math -- also known as STEM -- education into the lives of children and young adults, after-school programs that focus on STEM let children explore new ideas without worrying about keeping their grades up.
Students participating in afterschool programs that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) reported increased interest in science careers and gains in important 21st century skills such as critical thinking and perseverance -- skills in high demand in today’s workforce.
Thanks to the promotion of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in schools, many parents recognize these should be an essential element of children’s summer experiences. But trying to choose a summer STEM program can be overwhelming. What are the most desirable characteristics of a summer robotics and STEM camp?
Add building robots to the list of out-of-school activities required for kids to be competitive college applicants and future workers. Digital Adventures, which runs summer camps and after-school courses to expose kids to engineering and computer science, aims to provide the experience some parents think is necessary to get into the increasingly attractive field.
Too often as we discuss quality education and its role in the future workforce, we just look to what is offered in the classroom. Yet, by the age of 18, youth will spend 80 percent of their waking hours outside the classroom. It is imperative that policymakers and stakeholders consider partnerships with out-of-school programs to achieve statewide education goals, especially with STEM, workforce and literacy skills.