According to recent research, STEM jobs are growing at 1.7 times the rate of non-STEM jobs, and the U.S. is simply not producing enough candidates to fill them. Only 16% of high school seniors are interested in pursuing STEM careers, according to the Department of Education.
The White House has created a significant initiative to invest in technology education to help bridge the gap. “Now more than ever, the American economy needs a workforce that is skilled, adaptable, creative, and equipped for success in the global marketplace,” said the White House in a recent report. The challenge lies with pace. Many parents feel the STEM education gap isn’t being filled quickly enough for their kids to be relevant and compete for jobs in the future. Because of that, many parents are being proactive in bridging the STEM gap by finding unique solutions to explore technology, creativity and project management.
Youth Digital conducted a survey that asked parents of kids 8-16 what they looked for in technology education and why. Here are some of the core findings:
- Parents want solutions that allows kids to explore the technology they use day-to-day. Creating apps, designing a video game or creating their own YouTube channel were cited as the three most compelling projects parents wanted children to use.
- Parents value long-lasting skills. Coding/development, web design and app design were the leading tech skills parents would be willing to invest in.
- Parents are driven to bridge the STEM gap to allow for long-term professional success. Parents ranked the leading reasons to invest in tech education for their kids with passion for a future career, professional-level tech skills, and a solid understanding of tech skills rounding out the top three.
- Parents are concerned about their ability to support students through the STEM gap. We commonly find this to be a leading reason many parents don’t pursue investing in finding tech education solutions for their kids. In our study, parents cited that a student could get stuck and give up, the content may be boring, the work could be too challenging, or they will need help a parent can’t provide as the leading reasons not to move forward with tech education for kids outside of school.
- Parents are concerned about the amount of screen time that isn’t productive. 83% of our parents said they were concerned about how their kids use technology today and felt it wasn’t utilized productively.
Parent’s are clearly driven in ensuring their kids future success and understand the need for a core technology foundation. While schools begin to evolve their technology initiatives, parent’s have and will commit personal resources in bridging the gap. Technology isn’t going away, and the need to find solutions that allow students to be ahead of the curve is growing.