At Twomentor, LLC we share bi-weekly thought leadership from phenomenal executives and social entrepreneurs focused on: a diverse skilled workforce, social impact entrepreneurship, mentoring cultures, sponsorship and elevating women and youth in STEM careers. We had a compelling discussion about youth in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) and a new study with Alan Stukalsky, Chief Digital Officer, Randstad North America. With most jobs requiring STEM skills, the focus on building our K-12+ pipeline of talent for the jobs of tomorrow is pressing and requires our full attention:
Julie@Twomentor (JK): Can you tell us about your recent study and the background on it. Also, I watched your new STEM #bethecurious video 5 times today. It’s terrific!
Alan Stukalsky (AS): Randstad US conducted its study, Overcoming the barriers to STEM, from 1,000 volunteer participants between the ages of 11 to 17. Our data was collected using a Toluna online panel and we examined age, sex, region, grade level, type of school setting and gender to gather significant findings from the figures.
JK: What prompted Randstad to do this study? Were there any big surprises in the data?
AS: Our goal of conducting this study was to unearth the key motivators, beliefs and perspectives toward STEM-related topics among kids aged 11 to 17. As industry leaders, we keep our finger on the pulse and identify areas of concerns for younger generations, especially if it’s a misunderstanding of STEM careers.
I personally found the biggest surprise in the data to be the shifting attitudes toward subjects such as math as students moved forward in their education. There is standout data showing students between ages 11 to 14 are 18 percent more likely than 15 to 17 year-olds to classify STEM subjects as one of their favorites. The declining interest in these timeframes is something key stakeholders need to keep on their radar and re-nurture.
JK: What do our Huffington Post readers need to understand about the changing workforce? You work with top companies… what are the trends you are seeing?
AS: Readers need to understand we are approaching a promising future and a changing landscape with automation. Technology is taking a greater stake in the workplace and key players such as teachers, guidance counselors, curriculum developers and policy makers need to weave this into education to equip students.
We provide outsourcing, staffing, consulting and workforce solutions within the areas of engineering, finance and accounting, healthcare, human resources, IT, legal, life sciences, manufacturing and logistics, office and administration and sales and marketing. The trends we’re seeing across the board is finding “right-fit” candidates who possesses specialized skills as well as the soft skills to match company culture. We’re also seeing an increasingly globalized, agile workforce as 46 percent of companies currently rely on agile talent versus the 18 percent of companies that sourced agile employees in 2012. Also, our Workplace 2025 executive summary additionally highlights the influence of a post-digital world and how new stakeholders will come into play such as IT finance and operations, to better guide strategy and talent attraction.
JK: What jobs require STEM skills? Most people think it's just for people who use computers and scientists… is STEM more mainstream?
AS: There are countless jobs requiring STEM competencies. In fact, 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs will rely on employees who can apply mathematics and scientific expertise, which points to the need of rebranding STEM skills and its many uses. We’re seeing the most in-demand jobs lie in robotics engineers, IoT architects and jobs that have been newly introduced such as virtual reality/augmented reality engineers. Such jobs are growing exponentially and compensate well with annual salaries ranging from $105,400 to $121,000.
Yes, STEM is more mainstream than the general public may realize. Practical uses of STEM skills are difficult for students to see. In fact, 87 percent think people who study STEM work at companies like NASA; far fewer associate them with jobs at mainstream consumer brands like Instagram (40%) and Coca-Cola (26%). Even aside from career paths, STEM is mainstream in the fact that it’s seen in everyday problem-solving, intellectual curiosity and creativity.
JK: Why we need kids to focus on STEM now vs. 20 years ago and the state of jobs that elicits this focus?
AS: The need for kids to focus on STEM and the state of jobs go hand-in-hand. The current workforce is experiencing a talent shortage because younger audiences are looking at STEM opportunities through a narrow lens. We need to better communicate the breadth of jobs out there and how STEM skills can transfer into each one.
By 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is anticipating one million open STEM jobs. We’re going to stumble upon an even greater labor gap if we’re not targeting emerging generations now. The focus is to take STEM out of its silo and give it a broader meaning for the future workforce to eagerly take on.
JK: What data did you identify on when kids decide to pursue STEM careers? Do they lose interest as they get older?
AS: Data revealed 4 in 5 (78%) college students in STEM majors wanted to study STEM in high school or earlier and 1 in 5 (21%) decided in middle school or earlier. Early intervention in education is crucial when encouraging STEM participation and high school is seen as the last chance to captivate them.
As mentioned earlier, kids are showing less interest in STEM subjects as they get older. The crossroads teenagers come across in a matter of years are huge. We need to serve as their agent for potential career pathways and we need to constantly reinforce their curiosity and capabilities.
Alan Stukalsky, Chief Digital Officer oversees all facets of Randstad North America’s technology strategy and implementation in the U.S. and Canada. He looks to steer technology that drives innovation, generates economies of scale and develops best practices for all Randstad businesses. Under his leadership, Randstad consolidated websites, infrastructure and systems that resulted from acquisitions, and used technology to create efficiencies in back office processes. Stukalsky also spearheaded the launch of mobile apps and chat functionality to improve the company’s customer experience.
Stukalsky is passionate about raising awareness of STEM careers with primary, secondary and college levels students and actively participates in STEM-related activities, including work with Junior Achievement, Georgia State University, STE(A)M Truck and more. Stukalsky has been selected to participate in the prestigious 2016 Leadership Atlanta program and was nominated in both 2013 and 2015 as Georgia CIO of the Year. He currently participates in and leads IDG’s CIO Staffing Roundtable and serves on the boards of the Georgia CIO Leadership Association, Omicron, Staffing Innovation Exchange and Community Guilds Board.
Julie Kantor is CEO of Twomentor, LLC, a high impact training company focused on talent strategies for a diverse workforce. We value mentoring cultures, building diverse sponsorship initiatives & an entrepreneurial mindset. We have experience working with Fortune 500 Companies, SMBs, Universities and offer facilitated (and fun) mentor + sponsorship training, Mentor Road Trip™ Flash Mentoring, best practice strategy and keynote speaking. Plug in to our unparalleled network in the entrepreneurship & STEM ecosystems to drive change. Learn more here