Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day is today, and while your initial reaction may be to make a note to call in sick that day (heck, that was my gut instinct), resist the urge.
It’s one day that is a great reminder for the entire year. We all need to do more to fill the pipeline for STEM careers. That’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
You may be asking, what do you mean by “do more”? You may not work in tech yourself or perhaps your kids aren’t interested in science, or maybe you don’t even have kids.
That’s no excuse.
According to the Pew Research Center, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79 percent since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth. And companies are feeling the pinch. ESG Research conducted a study that found 51 percent of respondents were dealing with a skills shortage. They simply can’t find the talent to fill the roles.
That’s where it gets concerning for everyone, whether they are a parent, a business owner, or a techie. We need bodies to fill the technical roles of today, let alone the future.
Now that I have your attention, here is some advice for what you can do to help create the STEM leaders of tomorrow.
- Realize not everyone is going to want to be an engineer. And that’s okay. You need marketing people, communicators, project managers that like working in the field and can bridge the gap with their soft skills between the true data heads and the rest of the world.
- I’m not pushing for a PhD. There are many paths to a technical career that don’t start with a four-year college degree. But they all do start with curiosity. I know many cybersecurity professionals who came to the field with a networking certification or other technical program background and even more that were self-taught. They watched a lot of YouTube videos, read a lot of blogs, and took apart their computers. There also is a lot of opportunity for those in the military who were trained to handle various programming tasks. Encourage people from all walks of life and backgrounds to tap into STEM fields.
- Take your kids (or the neighbor’s kids) to work with you. Really. Even if you don’t work in tech, try to show the kids what you do every day, then ask if someone in your IT department can chat with them too.
- You didn’t think I’d get through this without mentioning LEGOS, did you? LEGOS are the ultimate toy for sparking interest in STEM fields. Once kids graduate from basic blocks, there are many options like the BOOST line. They have a robot you can build and control via a mobile app. Enough said.
- Snap Circuits. Another awesome toy that makes building electronics fun.
- Programming can be for all ages. Prime younger kids to program with fun tools, like Scratch, Blockly, and Alice. You might even learn something!
This is a small list of ideas. I know there are many more out there. But I challenge everyone to think about what they can do to help create the next generation of STEM professionals. I know Webroot is participating in Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day this year and I look forward to chatting with the participants about what I do each day to make the internet a little bit safer.