Fortune magazine (March 2019) just named the 100 best companies to work for and highlighted the fact that among those companies, 186,897 jobs are now open. The majority of these companies offer STEM positions that range from accountant to software developer to engineer. If this doesn’t indicate the need to increase STEM graduates from American schools, then nothing does! Data tell us that we aren’t doing a good enough job on that count as shown in the following graphic, but rather than digressing into that lengthy (but important) topic, I’d like to look at a couple of the companies that made the top 100 list.
Zoom in on Adobe, number 22 on the list. Fortune magazine reports that it has 2,500 open jobs. When I visited Adobe’s job site today, it listed 1,092 open jobs–607 engineering positions. When I researched the company further, what struck me immediately is its focus on an equitable work place, which is especially important in STEM fields. Check out this video.
Adobe’s website describes what engineers can expect if they join the company:
- Product development and product management As an engineer or product manager for the leader in digital marketing and digital media, you’ll get an unprecedented opportunity to work at the intersection of creative content, data science, and experience delivery.
- Cloud technology Join us on the cutting edge of SaaS delivery, where you’ll help bring together big data, analytics, cloud management, and digital content in a unified cloud platform that’s unlike anything else in the market.
- Research labs Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and content intelligence — join our team of scientists to explore these disciplines and everything that’s coming next.
- Information technology Come run the systems that run Adobe’s business. As a member of our IT team, you’ll deliver the always-on technology services and manage the telemetry and data that drive mission-critical decisions. You’ll use your technology chops, creative thinking, people skills, and end-to-end view of how the company operates to help us solve unique problems.
Look at the last sentence just above! Creative thinking – people skills! These are so critical to 21st century jobs, and integrated STEM is designed to teach students these skills through collaborative multi-week projects. As you can see, Adobe is all about having an equitable workplace and hiring employees with good people skills and creative thinking.
An occasional PBL scattered throughout the school year is not conducive to producing graduates with people skills and creative thinking abilities!
To digress a bit, many fear in this day and age that young people are lacking in social skills since they stay buried in their electronics. (Read this short opinion piece on the subject or this well-researched article that includes a Tedx talk.) I know it is debatable, as some say they ARE socializing – just in ways unfamiliar to those who came before social media. Still, I believe that body language is integral to good communication, and surely those on their phones are not learning such cues. And to digress just a bit further, I’m all for using phones as a tool in school. However, with that said, the most important tool we can use is face-to-face communication while problem solving. How many classrooms do that regularly, as in daily? An occasional PBL scattered throughout the school year is not conducive to producing graduates with people skills and creative thinking abilities!
Could it be possible that integrated STEM pedagogy becomes the cure-all for what ails society today? It certainly can’t fix everything, but it sure does teach our students to work together daily, it engages students in meaningful and authentic learning, and the icing on the cake–it blends standards from so many subjects and realms* into one unit! However, such sweeping change in schooling doesn’t happen overnight. It takes policy change at the national level down to the school board level. It takes funding. It takes believers. It takes professional development for current teachers and a change in focus at teaching colleges. We have a long way to go.
It’s imperative that we work harder on making those changes because of the current and future job market and because of our shameful STEM-graduate statistics. Looking at the Fortune article’s list of the top 100, I’ve noticed that many companies would require proficient mathematicians or programmers, such as Intuit, Pinnacle Financial Partners, USAA, Veterans United Home Loans, Capital One Financial, and so on. Other companies delve into artificial intelligence, such as Nvidia. Surfing its website gives me goosebumps and makes me wish I were a better scientist and technologist. I only have to roll over the menu headings to see that Nvidia is all about autonomous machines, deep learning and AI, self-driving cars, gaming and entertainment.
To me, Fortune’s article is a menu of delicious jobs just waiting for our brilliant young people. So let’s get busy changing how we do school in the USA. We need to pump out STEM graduates so that companies do not need to go outside of our country to hire their workforce.
*I say “realms” while thinking about the P21 standards or the ISTE standards (to name just a couple)–not standards that all teachers are familiar with yet or that school districts fully embrace, so they’re standards that are out there in whatever realm.