Mind the Gap: Prioritize STEM Career Readiness through Public/Private Partnerships

The STEM gap means few skill workers in STEM related industries.

By 2018, the STEM  fields will need three million more highly-skilled workers to fill all of open positions in the US.

But as of 2015, the US ranks 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 countries evaluated by the Programme for International Student Assessment.

This lackluster placement is a bellwether of the state of STEM education in America and the shrinking pool of hirable talent for some of the most vital industries in our economy.

Not only does this mean that students affected by the STEM gap are missing out on successful careers in important and expanding industries, but it also means that companies in STEM industries will see a stagnation of progress and productivity due to a lack of highly-skilled employees.

Both the public and private sectors must work together to successfully close the STEM gap. By combining resources and collaborating on effective initiatives, American education institutions and STEM companies will benefit from a boost in the engagement of students in STEM learning.

Public/private partnerships can be a creative solution to the challenge of the STEM gap.

Reimagining Corporate Social Responsibility

A public/private partnership is more than the traditional gestures of corporate social responsibility programs.

Through a public/private partnership in support of education with the goal of closing the STEM gap, companies can provide resources that might otherwise be unavailable to public education institutions and therefore assist in creating new learning opportunities for students in STEM subjects.

A great example of this philosophy in practice is Resourcefulness.

Resourcefulness: An Introduction to the Water-Energy Nexus, is an interactive STEM application authored by Dr. Michael E. Webber at The University of Texas at Austin that teaches key concepts about water and energy for K-12, colleges, industry and the general public.

Thanks to the philanthropic support of Itron, an American technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water, we were able to launch Resourcefulness and provide it free-of-charge to K-12 students.

Public/private partnerships are corporate social responsibility in action.

With that action directed at a major gap in STEM education, the work benefits the nation as a whole.

At Itron, corporate social responsibility means using available resources to maximize positive societal and environmental impact. Education plays a critical role in our ability to raise awareness about important sustainability challenges and inspire the next generation of problem solvers to help create a more resourceful world.


Structuring a Strong Public/Private Partnership

In an effective public/private partnership, it is important to focus on how to best support the work of content area experts, such as Resourcefulness author Dr. Michael Webber, as well as classroom educators who are maximizing learning opportunities by utilizing these resources.

In addition to educators, having a dedicated partner to develop and maintain the creative solution that’s born from a successful public/private partnership ensures the longevity of the project.

We are thrilled to work with a company that is savvy on sustainability and prioritizes social good nationally–and globally.

By tapping more partners on both the public and private side of STEM education, we can create even more robust engagement in these partnerships and get closer to closing the STEM gap.

Looking for a creative way to put your corporate values into action or a partnership to share your unique expertise with the future of STEM education? Consider a public/private partnership.

If you want to see a partnership in action, check out Resourcefulness and read more about how Dr. Webber, Itron and Disco were able to make this creative solution a reality.

[Dr. Webber and Disco Learning Media bear responsibility for the accuracy of the content presented in apps, online experiences, and any derivative works thereof. Itron and some other organizations cited within provided some data to inform the development, but neither sponsors nor partners exerted editorial oversight or influence over the project.]
Mind the Gap: Prioritize STEM Career Readiness through Public/Private Partnerships
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