A popular topic in education and public policy is the need to support the STEM disciplines…

A popular topic in education and public policy is the need to support the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) as the key to U.S. competitiveness. These disciplines generate innovative ideas and build new companies—and perhaps new industries. As you have learned in this chapter, innovative ideas can help sustain competitive advantage. Many American businesses, however, are concerned about whether there will be an adequate supply of STEM workers in the future because the growth in job opportunities for STEM occupations is expected to be nearly three times as fast as for non-STEM occupations. A key advocate for federal support for funding STEM education is the STEM Education Coalition, which expresses its mission as “to ensure that STEM education is recognized as a national policy priority.” The skills and expertise of the STEM occupations will be critical in dealing with the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 initiatives, which will confront the global community over the next 15 years. In particular, the key trends include a need for new communication and manufacturing technologies, cybersecurity, health care advances and preparations to manage pandemic threats, innovative and sustainable designs for infrastructure improvements, and improvements in the production and management of food, water, and energy that will meet the needs of a growing population. Business organizations may find opportunities to build sustainable competitive advantages by responding to these trends, but they will need adequate STEM expertise in order to create innovative and appropriate responses to these challenges. With innovation and cooperation, these trends can be confronted peacefully in order to benefit geopolitical stability.

1. Discuss within your group methods that the STEM Education Coalition might use to gain partners, particularly business organizations, that will help make sure STEM education is a national policy priority. Given the budget crisis, how can the coalition persuade congressional representatives to support funding?

2. How does funding for STEM education affect job opportunities for business majors?

3. Although group members may not be STEM majors, brainstorm ideas about how you might advise businesses to modify their operations or to expand/transform their operations in order to find opportunities in the Global Trends initiatives over the next 15 years. Choose a business of interest to the group. Then consider scenarios in which the business may thrive as one of the five trends develop. For example, the majority of businesses might want to ask, “What if threats to cybersecurity increase?” Or, “What if water resources become more scarce? How would this affect production or demand for the goods produced?” Your group may also consider businesses or industries that may decline as a result of the trends.

4. What additional developmental opportunities might prepare business majors for playing key roles in facing the Global Trends 2030? What skills will you need in order to manage effectively the STEM employees who are central to innovation?

 

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