Gabriella C. Gonzalez, Christopher Joseph Doss, Julia H. Kaufman, Robert Bozick for RAND
As the demand for workers with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills grows ever higher, employers face stiff competition for qualified employees—and with retirements, the pool of employees grows ever smaller. Meanwhile, U.S. education and workforce systems could be failing to keep pace with the needs of the STEM economy, leaving talented people out of the running for STEM jobs because they lack the proper training or credentials.
How can educators help employers fill STEM positions in the near and long terms? RAND Corporation researchers examined the fast-growing oil and natural gas field in three states to understand how educators and employers are working together to meet demand for workers in STEM fields, as well as how both can improve collaboration. The study focused on well-paying “middle-skills” jobs, which require specialized education beyond high school but not a four-year college degree. The research team conducted surveys and held interviews with employers, STEM field college department heads, and instructors from four- and two-year colleges.
The study resulted in a deeper understanding of the challenges preventing full collaboration between educators and employers seeking to build a strong middle-skills STEM workforce, as well as ways in which employers, colleges, and instructors can overcome these challenges.