STEM Initiative

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

“The Labor Department projects that by 2014 there will be more than 2 million job openings in science, technology, and engineering, while the number of Americans graduating with degrees in those subjects is plummeting.”
- The Economist, April 12, 2008

The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are growing across the nation. As America and the rest of the world become more dependent on technology, more areas within the STEM field are developing, providing excellent jobs for people within the fields. However, as more STEM jobs become available, less Americans pursue careers in the STEM fields. Missouri is no exception to this, as Missouri will need to fill 143,000 jobs by 2018 and will currently be unable to do so. Missourians will not fill many of these jobs due to the lack of students that are interested in STEM related careers. The lack of student interests in STEM starts at a young age and is often left unchecked.

 

In Missouri, many middle school and high school students lose interests in the STEM fields before they even start their college career. Close to 28% of high school students express interest in the STEM fields their freshman year; of that 28%, over half (57%) will lose interest in the fields before they begin college. If Missouri is to fill these 143,000 jobs in the STEM fields, something must be done.

 

During the 2012 Missouri General Assembly Legislative Session, ASUM lobbied for a bill that created a STEM fund with the purpose of promoting STEM related programs across the state. The bill was voted into law that year; however, the funding mechanism was taken out of the bill and the STEM fund currently sits empty. If money were made available to the STEM fund, universities and public primary and secondary schools would use this money across the state to encourage student interests in the STEM fields.

 

To generate money for the STEM fund, ASUM is lobbying for legislation that would allow companies that hire STEM student interns to request up to $5,000 of their yearly tax liability to be reallocated into the STEM fund. It is important to note that this is not a tax credit for the companies; it is merely a reallocation of the company’s taxes from the General Revenue to the STEM fund. This would incentivize STEM companies in our state to hire student interns while contributing to the STEM fund and investing in Missouri’s economic future.

 

During the 2014 Missouri General Assembly Legislative Session, the STEM fund legislation went far, with support from the Economic Development Committee in the House and was placed on the House Calendar. Unfortunately it was not voted on before the end of session. It is important for the Missouri General Assembly to see the need for such a STEM fund during the 2015 Legislative Session. The General Assembly should vote to instate this legislation to ensure that Missouri can begin to fill the STEM jobs and so that Missouri can stay competitive in the STEM fields in the future.

Summary:

  • ASUM strongly supports an increase in Missouri’s investment in higher education for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • According to The Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America, 143,000 STEM-related jobs will need to be filled in Missouri by 2018 and 91% of U.S. jobs will require some college education by 2018
  • The percent growth of STEM degrees being awarded in the U.S. is lower than the international growth in STEM degrees being awarded (Thomasian, 2011)
  • The number of STEM degree seeking individuals will not meet the growing number of STEM jobs (Thomasian, 2011)