Friday, November 4, 2011

Preparing K-12 Students for STEM Careers

Community College Times’s Ellie Ashford reported this week on the efforts community colleges are putting into the development of STEM interests in K-12 students. The demand for more trained workers in STEM disciplines continues to grow and isn’t expected to slow down any time soon, if ever. By getting involved with students at a young age, community colleges may impact the number of students who later pursue a STEM degree or certificate, helping fill the need in the economy for STEM-trained workers.

Ashford reported, for example, that California’s lieutenant governor spoke about the significant discrepancy in the state’s number of unemployed people and the number of unfilled jobs. Basically, there are many jobs to be had but not enough qualified workers to fill those jobs. The lack of STEM education or training is hurting people who need work.

Chris Roe, CEO of the California STEM Learning Network, said, “It’s really hard for employers to find highly trained engineers and technology workers. That alignment between the education system and workforce needs is really critical. And the community college system is a key player to fill that gap—both as a pathway to more advanced degrees and to provide critical, specialized degrees and certifications.”

He continued, “A lot of students are precluded from going into these pathways because they don’t have the preparation. That is a huge barrier. It is absolutely essential that we support community colleges and help them develop linkages with K-12 schools, four-year colleges and employers.”

Community colleges in many states are implementing programs that bring K-12 students to the college to see first-hand what a STEM education may include; also, college faculty are visiting K-12 schools and taking hands-on presentations that get students involved. Further, colleges are creating education centers that give training and tools to K-12 teachers to help them better prepare their students for postsecondary STEM training.

The high schools that utilize TestOut’s LabSim IT training courses are giving students a huge advantage in STEM preparation. LabSim courses are developed around the objectives of industry certifications that evaluate a test-taker’s skills and knowledge in high-demand areas of technology. With the new TestOut Pro certifications, TestOut also offers students an achievable credential that proves not only what they learned through study, but also what they can do hands on.

What is your K-12 school doing to prepare students for STEM careers?

1 comment:

  1. Letting the students be informed of the realities of life in the “real world” and what they need to succeed in it is part of this course, which is great. And it engages students in exploring exciting career opportunities as well.