Solvable Problem: Closing the Skills Gap in STEM

Why is today’s workforce ill-prepared for employment opportunities in STEM, as employers struggle to fill jobs in these areas?

Who hasn’t wished, as they stare at a blank computer screen, that they had the skills needed to solve even the most basic technical issue? Given these skills are often key to the life we lead today, there is more to be done to engender either a love, or an aptitude, for STEM.
Employers around the world need analytical thinkers and problem solvers, yet they struggle to find qualified candidates for entry level positions, much less advanced or mid-career positions. Employers have jobs available with no one to do them.
Meanwhile, more than 75 million unemployed youth around the world can’t enter the workforce. They, and many more mid-life workers, have never had the opportunity to gain the qualifications required, nor guidance about how to set themselves on the right path to learn. It’s a basic math puzzle that we are getting wrong—a significant market failure based on an equation we can, and must, solve.
Despite the global value placed on education, learning focuses on the skills a community most easily understands. Society, our families, and institutions push students into four-year degrees from colleges and universities; communities try to keep their young grounded with the traditional skills they know and trust; education systems struggle to keep STEM interesting to secondary school students; and many companies are still reluctant to employ individuals without a technical degree.
The new gig economy may help change the way we think about work as more former full-time employees move to a more project-focused approach to earning an income. In classrooms from Ghana to Australia, teachers are looking at how to translate STEM theories into practical workplace skills. Vocational courses that build both technical know-how and the soft skills of being a great employee are starting to appear in curriculums. Employers too are becoming more adaptable as they assess the portfolio of skills they require and the opportunity to retrain versus retrench.
How might we devise collaborative action to ensure we are equipping individuals with the skills needed to succeed in a workplace that is being coded, developed, and designed? How might we create learning opportunities, beyond the traditional bricks and mortar institutions, for those whose aptitude is yet to be discovered? And how might we unlock the potential for those who wish to work and for the employers seeking a skilled workforce, so that together we can unlock STEM innovations to aid us all?

Expert Expo Posters on Closing the Skills Gap in STEM

Take a look at the major barriers identified by Global Engagement Forum: Live experts to solving the problem of the skills gap in STEM. These posters are an at a glance look into what participants discussed at the live event. Together, groups of collaborators developed solutions to overcome these and other barriers to closing the skills gap in STEM.

Skills Gap Stories