Plotting a New Course: Educating the Next Generation of Tech Talent

Contributed by Elizabeth Lipscomb 
Vice President of Business Development, Discovery Education  

There are a number of challenges our economy will face with regard to the lack of young people prepared with the STEM skills necessary to join as productive members of the STEM workforce. According to research by STEMConnector, there are critical gaps within the STEM ecosystem that greatly contribute to the STEM talent gap: 

  • Belief Gap: Students and adults around them hold incorrect beliefs about what knowledge and experience are required enter into STEM jobs. 
  • Fundamental Skills GapRight now, in the US there are 7.3 million unfilled jobs, including 4.4 million job openings for skilled labor.  It’s estimated that by 2030, the global talent shortage could reach over 85 million people, leading to a potential loss of $162 billion in revenue each year in the tech sector alone 
  • Demographic GapResearch shows that diverse organizations perform better because diversity increases creativity and innovation, ultimately promoting higher quality decision-makingTo put it in numbers, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to financially outperform their peers and ethnically diverse companies outperform peers by 35%. However, there is a gap in the diversity of students pursuing STEM careers.   

As a result of these challenges, half of students between the ages of 11 and 17 say they don’t know someone with a job in STEM; and three quarters say they really “don’t know much about what an engineer does.”

Discovery Education has set out on a mission to reimagine the education marketplace.  We want to truly partner with school districts to fuel student achievement.  Likewise, we are reimagining the relationship between employers and their future employees to better align what students are learning in classrooms today to what companies need to fill the positions of tomorrow.  The need to create a more qualified and diverse future workforce is of paramount importance for the success of our economy.  Educators, businesses, parents and entire communities have set out to impact STEM learning, but more must be done. 

With a focus on equity and access, the STEM Careers Coalition aims to prepare 10 million students for the future of work by 2025.  The anchor partner organizations who have provided initial seed funding power the Coalition’s launch include Chevron, The Manufacturing Institute, the American Petroleum Institute (API), Boeing, Microsoft, and Best Buy. These industry leaders depend on a strong pipeline of STEM-ready students to drive their businesses and the American economy forward, and thus are aligned on a shared mission to accelerate the elevation of STEM career pathways for students, parents and guardians in schools nationwide.  

Coalition member companies are actively engaging in regional approaches to workforce development by providing no-cost access to digital content and experiences that engage students in instruction, build foundational STEM knowledge, and develop the critical 21st?Century skills students need for college and career success.  

Specifically, Coalition partners will also underwrite Discovery Education STEM Connect in local communities to create connected pathways between K-12 students and the STEM workforce. Inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering, STEM Connect is an interdisciplinary resource that enhances core curriculum and helps students build valuable problem-solving skills as they develop and apply solutions to important real-world challenges. Rooted in authoritative research, users become part of a global student laboratory to share data and collaborate with others around the world. 

District leaders and educators may now apply online to be considered for Coalition scholarships, with preference given to schools in under-resourced communities. 

Through these efforts, the STEM Careers Coalition will help expose students and educators to digitally immersive STEM career experiences, connecting classrooms to careers at unprecedented scale and ultimately resulting in an increase in students that are able to envision their future in the STEM workforce. 

For more information on The STEM Careers Coalition and to access career profiles, student activities and more, visit