Solving the STEM Skills Gap During Out-of-School Time
The STEM skills gap is a real and significant problem, according to a recent survey of members of Business Roundtable and Change the Equation, conducted earlier this year. Key findings from the 126 CEOs who responded include:
- 97% reported the skills gap is a problem;
- approximately 60% of job openings require basic STEM literacy, and 42% require advanced STEM skills;
- 28% say that at least half of their new entry-level hires lack basic STEM literacy; and
- nearly 60% of the U.S. workforce will be replaced in the next five years in jobs that require basic STEM literacy.
Quality out-of-school time (OST) programs provide the ideal setting to close the STEM skills gap. OST programs bridge the gap between the formal and informal learning environments by expanding on classroom learning with hands-on, project-based activities. These programs – afterschool, during summer and on school breaks – typically have the flexibility to dive deeper into STEM subjects; allowing youth to explore academic concepts experientially, sometimes without even realizing it. With schools already strapped for classroom time, out-of-school time programs can support youth to develop the STEM skills necessary to meet the ever-growing demand in the workplace.