Hannah Rozow is the student representative on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. An undergraduate at Indiana University in Bloomington, she is pursuing a double major in economics and political science with a minor in Spanish.
Indiana needs more workers educated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
According to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the demand for STEM jobs in Indiana will rise to 4% of the total workforce by 2018. Of those 115,570 jobs, 90% will require some postsecondary education, and 43% will require at least a bachelor’s degree. So what are colleges and universities doing about it?
Institutions across the state have launched initiatives to meet projected demand. Many of these efforts aim to meet the needs of a particular region, while some serve the state as a whole. Here are some of the projects underway in Indiana:
- Purdue University College of Engineering introduced a plan to increase undergraduate enrollment by 10% and graduate enrollment by 25% to 30% over the next 5 years.
- Ivy Tech Community College received a $3.1 million grant from North Central Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) to train 44,000 people of the North Central region for STEM-based careers over the next 5 years.
- The University of Notre Dame’s Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program in Indiana (AP-TIP IN) works to increase enrollment in AP courses – math, science and English – and increase the number of qualifying scores on AP exams at 33 Indiana public high schools.
- In an effort to attract students at an earlier age, Ivy Tech-Northeast hosts Adventure and Imagination Summer STEM Camp for students ages 11 to 14. Similarly, Indiana University-Bloomington hosts Adventures in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math summer camp for middle school students.
- Southwestern Indiana STEM (SwISTEM), through a partnership between the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech-Southwest, aims to increase the number of students in STEM majors and educate those students in a hands-on, team oriented way.
- The state funding formula for 2013-2015 includes a high-impact degree metric, meaning a portion of public research institutions’ funding will be tied to the number of STEM degrees produced.
While institutional initiatives are an integral part to increasing the number of STEM-qualified workers, their efforts are only part of the equation. Involvement from the business community is vital. By offering job-shadowing opportunities and school presentations to local students, businesses can incite student interest in STEM education at an earlier age. Additionally, businesses should partner with local colleges and universities to ensure that students graduate not only with a STEM degree but with the professional skills needed to be a good employee.
The state needs more STEM-educated workers, and if there is a collaborative effort between colleges, universities and businesses, demand will be met.