The number of high school graduates going into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related fields has grown since the start of the Great Recession. The percentage of freshmen deciding to major in STEM subjects rose to 28.2% in 2011 from 21.1% in 2007, according to Scott Jaschik via Times Higher Education. Students and their families are looking for more secure majors that they are more certain to land them jobs after graduation from college.
The percentage increase breaks down as thus:
- Engineering: 57.1%
- Biology: 28.2%
- Physical Sciences: 11.1%
- Mathematics: 12.6%
While there are several job openings with companies like Johnson & Johnson, Google, Mac, and Pfizer, many of these companies are looking outside of the United States for new talent, reports Harrison Jackson of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. Why? Because the quality of American education in STEM subjects is lacking compared to that of other countries. Jackson writes:
Even the United States’ college and university students are falling behind their international counterparts in STEM fields. Of all of the U.S. bachelor’s degrees that were awarded in 2008, only 31% were given in engineering and science fields. Meanwhile, in Japan and China, bachelor’s degrees were given in science and engineering at 61% and 51%, respectively of all majors.
Part of the problem is that STEM field jobs only make up about 7% of the nation’s economy, so nationwide, there aren’t that many jobs to be had. However, on a state-to-state basis, this may or may not be the case. Jackson reports that in Maryland alone, there is a 2,000 person deficit for STEM jobs.