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Continuing STEM Education

by Thomas R. Cutler   |   January 2, 2017

A new report by the Pew Center shows that American workers - especially those with college degrees and/or those working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields - know they need continuing education training to keep pace in the job market. Overall, the survey findings and employment data show how Americans are hustling to adapt to new labor force realities.

According to the Pew report:
  • Most working Americans (54%) say they will need additional, lifelong training and education to keep pace in the workforce.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of workers with at least a four-year degree say they don?t have the education and training they need to get ahead at work.
  • Some 63% of adults with a bachelor?s degree or higher level of education say they will need to keep advancing their skills throughout their career.
  • Nearly half of employed adults (45%) said they got extra training to improve their job skills in the past year.
  • Two-thirds of adults working in certain STEM-related industries of science, technology, engineering and math say ongoing training and skills development will be essential for them.

As more working adults realize they need new and ongoing job skill training, workers will flock to both formal education settings as well as newer, faster technology education bootcamps; the learning community for robotics, technology computer, web development, and data science skills is growing quickly across the country.

Many of these continuing education students have college degrees already and work closely with robotic and technology companies to continually train existing employees. Like many millennials accustomed to exercise bootcamps, the students in these programs report a preference for intense, immersive programs ? helping graduates start or advance careers.

The Pew report looked at the State of American Jobs
How the shifting economic landscape is reshaping work and society and affecting the way people think about the skills and training they need to get ahead. Tectonic changes are reshaping U.S. workplaces as the economy moves deeper into the knowledge-focused age. These changes are affecting the very nature of jobs by rewarding social, communications and analytical skills. They are prodding many workers to think about lifetime commitments to retraining and upgrading their skills. And they may be prompting a society-wide reckoning about where those constantly evolving skills should be learned ? and what the role of colleges should be.

The number of workers in occupations requiring average to above-average education, training and experience increased from 49 million in 1980 to 83 million in 2015, or by 68%. This was more than double the 31% increase over the same period in employment, from 50 million to 65 million, in jobs requiring below-average education, training and experience.

Americans think the responsibility for preparing and succeeding in today?s workforce starts with individuals themselves; roughly seven-in-ten (72%) say ?a lot? of responsibility falls on individuals to make sure that they have the right skills and education to be successful in today?s economy. Nearly 60% believe public K-12 schools should bear a lot of responsibility. Views differ on the roles in post-secondary education; other entities, such as companies and different levels of government may play a role in preparing people for the workforce.

The shifting demand for skills in the modern workplace may be working to the benefit of women. Women, who represent 47% of the overall workforce, make up the majority of workers in jobs where social or analytical skills are relatively more important, 55% and 52%, respectively. For their part, men are relatively more engaged in jobs calling for more intensive physical and manual skills, making up 70% of workers in those occupations. This is likely to have contributed to the shrinking of the gender pay gap from 1980 to 2015 given that wages are rising much faster in jobs requiring social and analytical skills.

These changes highlight the rise of a service-oriented and knowledge-based economy. From 1990 to 2015, employment growth in the U.S. was led by the educational services and health care and social assistance sectors. Employment has doubled in each of these sectors since 1990 (105% and 99%, respectively). By comparison, overall employment (non-farm) increased 30% during this period.

Most workers say they will need continuous training, and many say they do not have the skills to advance in their current job. Fully 54% of adults who are currently in the labor force say that it will be essential for them to get training and develop new skills throughout their work life to keep up with changes in the workplace.
Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com) Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 6000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. Cutler authors more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector and is the most published freelance industrial journalist worldwide. Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com and can be followed on Twitter @ThomasRCutler. See More Details.

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