This article attempts to address the workforce crisis with implications for economic competitiveness and national defense faced by America and the dichotomy of STEM needs and available employees. Businesses struggle to fill critical skilled roles in STEM occupations and thus suffer sluggish growth. In fact, some estimate up to 2.4 million STEM jobs go unfilled College graduates in STEM fields struggle to find jobs. STEM jobs have doubled as a proportion of all jobs since the industrial revolution. New jobs and entirely new fields are being created daily. Estimates suggest that 65 percent of children entering elementary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that are not on our radar yet. More students are in college than ever before, and STEM graduates out-earn those in non-STEM fields 12-30 percent across all education levels. It seems impossible for both these narratives to be accurate. Yet, impossibly, they are both quite real. These two realities demand a greater understanding of the STEM talent ecosystem and a greater commitment to action. Both employers who have jobs to fill and job seekers are facing myriad confusing messages, options, and challenges. Considering this complexity, it is tempting to put our energy towards finding a single solution—the one program, metric, or organization that has all the answers. Since the National Science Foundation (NSF) coined the term “STEM” nearly two decades ago, we have seen an explosion in interest, investment, programs, research, and data all seeking such a solution.

First Page


Last Page




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

STEM_Vol3_1_4(State of STEM).pdf (139 kB)
Supplemental Reference List with DOIs