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Academic News|Commentary: Where STEM Context and Careers Meet

STEM JOBS REPRESENT ONE of the fastest-growing opportunities in our economy, leaping past other careers. These jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math fields often pay better than other jobs for workers with the same level of education, and there is a shortage of young people pursuing these paths, in the public and private sectors. Despite all of these reasons to pursue a STEM degree, a recent Pew Research Center survey found, "only a third of workers (33%) ages 25 and older with at least a bachelor's degree have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field." With a network of 20,000-plus schools throughout North America, EVERFI delivers digital resources that help teachers equip students with the skills they need to succeed.

STEM jobs' rapid growth is why it's so vital that young people have a strong grasp of the STEM skills needed to fill these jobs and thrive in their adult lives. It is this disconnect between professional opportunities and students' pursuit of these jobs that compels Washington, D.C.-based education technology company EVERFI to invest in developing STEM career exploration resources.

EVERFI's recent insight report, "STEM Connections," explored a trend among students who report a low level of interest in these high-growth STEM careers. We surveyed more than 13,000 middle school students across 45 states through our Endeavor course, an interactive STEM skill and career exploration program, and found that students who lacked access to STEM professionals and encouragement in STEM classes were less likely to report an interest in STEM careers than their peers. If access and encouragement are not present, a student's interest in STEM tends to be much lower than if they are present.

Additionally, we know that some of the states with the lowest college-degree attainment are also some of the regions with the greatest STEM career growth. There are hundreds of STEM careers that require a wide range of education, from IT support professionals who need a high school degree with some vocational training to biomedical engineers that require Ph.D.s. Pew's recent survey shows that many Americans, particularly those who don't end up going to college, are saying "STEM is not for them" because it is not capturing their interest and imagination.

It is one of the many reasons that we are so proud of the diverse group of communities we support through the EVERFI learning platform to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals. Through the support of public and private partners, we are able to reach millions of students each year at no cost to schools. EVERFI's online education addresses critical skills from financial literacy to health and wellness to STEM exploration. Our more than 100 former educators work directly with school administrators to find the right curriculum fit for these web-based tools. We provide professional development and ongoing technical support to teachers as they bring STEM concepts and careers to life through immersive instructional technology.

From schools in tiny towns throughout Montana and Mississippi, to diverse urban school districts in Miami and Los Angeles, we know that there is no shortage of talent and creativity in the next generation. EVERFI is committed to helping students identify and pursue these opportunities.

(This report is adapted from the U.S.NEWS,