· The “STEM workforce” is extensive and critical to innovation and competitiveness. It is also defined in various ways and is made up of many sub-workforces. The STEM workforce consists of a many types of STEM-capable workers who employ significant STEM knowledge and skills in their jobs. This workforce includes the scientists and engineers who further scientific and technological progress through research and development (R&D) activities, workers in non-R&D jobs who use STEM knowledge and skills to devise or adopt innovations, and workers in technologically demanding jobs who need STEM capabilities to accomplish occupational tasks.
· STEM knowledge and skills enable multiple, dynamic pathways to STEM and non-STEM occupations alike. In the United States, individuals with STEM knowledge and skills need not follow a linear “pipeline” from receipt of a STEM degree to a job in that same STEM field. Decades of data show that workers with STEM-degrees follow numerous pathways leading to careers in and out of their field of study and even into non-STEM jobs. Although many individuals with a STEM degree do not work in a STEM field, the majority of these workers indicate that their job is related to their STEM education. The relatively loose links between degrees and occupations are a distinctive feature of the U.S. workforce. This feature enables individuals to apply STEM skills in jobs across the economy and employers to utilize workers with STEM skills in whatever ways add the greatest value.
· Assessing, enabling, and strengthening workforce pathways is essential to the mutually reinforcing goals of individual and national prosperity and competitiveness. To ensure continued U.S. competitiveness and prosperity, our Nation must foster a strong, STEM-capable workforce. First, we must monitor and assess the condition of workforce pathways and identify risks and challenges to them. Second, we must ensure that all individuals have access to high quality education. A well-rounded pre-college education that includes significant engagement with STEM unlocks pathways into the technical STEM workforce and pursuit of additional STEM studies at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Third, we need to address roadblocks to the participation of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM (e.g., minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, military veterans, and individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds). Addressing these roadblocks will allow our Nation to benefit from the capabilities of all of its people and ensure that our populace can participate fully in a globally competitive, knowledge- and technology-intensive economy.
Here is the full report: http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/publications/2015/nsb201510.pdf