Labor shortages in manufacturing and other STEM fields could bring about a new approach to learning.
According to Paul Gerbino, ThomasNet News's publisher, young workers don't consider manufacturing as a career because of the stigma that the jobs are dirty, low skilled, and low paying. But many of these jobs now involve sophisticated technology, and they pay accordingly. Salaries can start at $50,000 or more, and climb to more than $100,000 a year for skilled, experienced engineers and technicians.
The industry needs an "image makeover," Gerbino says, and stakeholders need to reach out to high school and college students to create excitement about building tangible things. Many companies are implementing apprenticeship programs and working with schools to provide technical training to students.
And several not-for-profit organizations are dedicated to the overarching cause of closing the STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—skills gap. US2020 is an initiative from the White House to pair 1 million STEM professionals with mentees from minority and low-income families by the year 2020; Next Generation Science Standards seeks to align science and math education in the United States with industry needs; and the Maker Education Initiative has helped usher in the growing "maker movement"—a technological and creative learning revolution that encourages learners to develop STEM skills by making building, and inventing.