Samsung Electronics’ pathway to success is a result of pioneering innovation and defying the impossible through the advancement of technology for 50 years. From the beginning, the company identified the integral role that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) plays in our daily lives – not just as the creator of products – from semiconductors to smartphones – and services – like 5G and connected IoT, but also as an employer and a corporate citizen. Samsung also recognized that it wanted to take an active and meaningful role in boosting interest and proficiency in STEM to fuel the creation of a skilled workforce and to create innovative thinkers and makers that are actively engaged in the direction of the modern world.
In the U.S., there is a supply and demand mismatch when it comes to STEM fields. Employment in STEM occupations grew much faster than non-STEM over the last decade (24.4 percent versus 4.0 percent), and STEM occupations are projected to grow by 8.9 percent from 2014 to 2024, compared to 6.4 percent growth for non-STEM occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “STEM Jobs: 2017 Update.”
To directly address this issue, Samsung Electronics America is bridging gaps and readying a workforce by making STEM education a prominent part of its corporate agenda via its Solve for Tomorrow (SFT) program. The nationwide competition that challenges public school students in grades 6-12 to showcase how STEM can be applied to help improve their community is now entering its tenth year and is effectively creating a viable talent pipeline to fill the growing STEM workforce needs.
STEM is Fundamental
Taking a wider lens, STEM is important because it pervades every part of our lives. We exercise our STEM muscles when managing our finances and we experience STEM when streaming a TV series with breathtaking special effects. Emerging technologies, like 5G, AI, IoT and robotics, are changing the way we live, work, play and engage with one another. Moreover, scientific and technological advances increasingly dominate the national and global discourse, from environmental debates on the climate crisis and the need to update aging infrastructure to developing sustainable strategies for the food industry and researching cures for cancer.
Having the STEM literacy to understand the discourse surrounding these tech-driven changes and national and global issues is now as fundamentally important as learning to read and write. That’s why it’s imperative that our education system reflect these evolving needs. By incorporating STEM into the curriculum, we can ensure that we’re paving the way for a brighter future.
Beyond the Skills Gap
The U.S. Department of Education cites that at least 20 percent of U.S. jobs require a high level of knowledge in any one STEM field. But even outside of the traditional STEM job sector, there is a need for STEM competencies and skills. Data shows that the set of core cognitive knowledge, skills, and abilities that are associated with a STEM education are in demand in nearly all job sectors and occupations.
STEM skills are key to a 21st century workforce and taking approaches to close the gap through education is vital. But “skills” is not the only gap that exists. It’s time for a tectonic shift in expanding STEM learning and workforce opportunities to all, therefore closing the gender, racial and socioeconomic gaps as well.