What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – usually in reference to talent. STEM can cut across the learning pipeline – from early childhood education through lifelong learning. It can be referenced in efforts focused on talent development, but also retention and recruitment or retraining/recertification efforts. Any career enabled by science, technology, engineering, or math may be a STEM career; it is the technician working with algebra in her water resources field work, just as it’s the doctoral-level bio-tech researcher. Just as the STEM acronym may not be readily recognized by many employers and workers, STEM-career awareness is key to ensuring the right leaders and partners are both engaged and benefiting.
Who is STEMflorida?
Following preliminary partnership and work with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Council of 100, and the Florida Department of Education, in June of 2009 Workforce Florida, Inc. and Enterprise Florida, Inc. announced the creation of a statewide council to strengthen the STEM skills of Florida’s talent as a way to address the increasing demand for jobs requiring strong foundations in these areas. STEMflorida, funded by a $580,000 grant from Workforce Florida, launched to connect business, economic development, workforce, and education leaders to identify the opportunities for building and measuring the state’s supply of workers with STEM proficiency and skills, in fields that support innovation in existing and emerging industries. STEMflorida drives Florida’s leadership and proficiency in STEM talent development by connecting these stakeholders around the issues that impact and support innovation in Florida’s existing and emerging industries, employers, and entrepreneurs.
STEMflorida has reviewed the competitive priorities of employers who rely on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to win and grow; and professionals who prepare Florida’s talent for the future. STEMflorida‘s Statement of Intent includes four areas:
- Advance STEMflorida so that it is a flexible, dynamic, and responsive enterprise for the next generation
- Ensure that there is one STEM movement for the nation’s fourth largest state by collaborating with and adding valuable resources to state-level initiatives
- Link our work directly to other Florida initiatives that measure and market our growth role on the global STEM stage
- Provide business with efficient and clear pathways to communicate, engage, and compare
STEM careers have gained global attention in regions and communities seeking to gain the competitive foothold. This is because STEM careers can translate to value for the employer, the community, and the worker: higher wages, greater skills, and a better potential for personal/family sustainability.
Meanwhile, Enterprise Florida’s Roadmap to Florida’s Future outlines a new focus on strategy around target industry clusters. STEM is an axial element within the economic development strategy for a globally competitive Florida.
States and regions around the globe have made STEM a table stake for jobs, capital, and innovation. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a 2005 report requested from the National Academies by Congress described the workforce needs of the 21st century and the nation’s current gaps and opportunities in providing the STEM workforce. The need for improving STEM talent development has been highlighted by reports of the Business-Higher Education Forum in 2005 and 2007. STEM received special Congressional attention in the 2011 Congressional budget and the reauthorization plan.