In the aftermath of the "CES 2017 headrush," I turned my attention away from the "tech of it" this past week, and reflected instead on the "people of it." It was at that point I came down off the "CES high" and got back to reality, real quick!
The reality is, there is a lot of work ahead of us to realize the "vision(s)" driving these new & exciting digital products, offerings, and business models, and my fear is there simply aren't enough people to do it! Such a gargantuan effort will be required to design "things" and ecosystems, build them, integrate them, connect them, secure them, manage them and of course leverage the resulting data; and when I added it all up in my mind, I said: there's NO WAY!
But before I became too freaked out, I decided to do some research and turned to the US Labor Department US Department of Education to review STEM occupational and educational information/statistics. I also looked at a variety of data from the WSJ, PwC and McKinsey. Well suffice to say, I found an abundance of data; but the problem is now I'm really freaked out! Here's why: while the number and variety of STEM jobs and pay information when compared to other fields is very exciting (see STEM Occupations Infographic below), the rate of enrollment in STEM-related education isn't as rosy.
The problem I see coming is that a whopping 60% of CEO's expect up to 50% of earnings to come from "technology-enabled" innovation, over the next five years, according to a McKinsey study. 50% of earnings! That's a heck of a lot of innovation to support and sustain that type of goal. And frankly, I see a gap forming, the size of the pacific ocean, between vision and ability to execute, if we don't get more people into STEM-related education and jobs quickly! But let's look at the good news first:
Again, looks like some terrific stats that would really get people motivated, right? You would think so but look at the slow growth in numbers of students pursuing degrees in science and engineering in the "Technical Challenge" chart to the right. We've barely made any progress in enrollment in STEM over a 10-year period!
Now look at the Projected Percentage Increases in STEM jobs in the chart below. 14% average increase in STEM jobs forecast between now and 2020. With 545,000 technology-related jobs curretnly open in the U.S., according to the White House. How on earth are we going to keep pace? Part of that answer may come from Technology itself. Technology like AI and Machine Learning, but people...we need people!
So in this blog I'm going to make a request: help me! Help me get more kids (and grown-ups) interested in STEM careers. For example, if you are a STEM professional connect with a group/association that supports STEM education and awareness and get involved. If you are already part of an association that focuses on STEM, create programs that create awareness. And by all means, print the infographic above and show it to as many high school students, and adults looking for a new challenge, as you can!
And, to show you I'm dead serious, I will put real skin in this game: if you/your association are in the Bay Area and have a group of kids who need some STEM inspiration and motivation, I will give a half-day adventure at our innovation center - Blue Sky. Our center is just loaded with engineers and technology experts, and really cool technologies. Your group will love it! Blue Sky is 100,000 sqft of pure, STEM heaven.
Here's a pic of a Middle-school tour we did recently. Check out the kids' faces, as they see their own veins for the first time, through the ingenious Vein Viewer we recently innovated with a medical firm. The kids were riveted, to say the least! And they were even happier when they realized blood tests could be faster, more efficient and less painful if the nurse uses this device to find their way around your veins vs. poking around for them! Improving something, like a doctor's visit in this case, through technology, was the golden nugget these kids walked away with!
In addition to Blue Sky, our Radius Chicago Office, led by Phil Hague, will be hosting an event with Project SYNCERE: On Saturday, January 21st, we will be hosting a group of 30 students for a hands-on product development workshop. We will split the group into teams, create personas, and walk them through Research, Design, Engineering, and Branding. The teams will be tasked with developing a new backpack accessory based on the needs of the persona they are given. Radius staff will mentor the groups throughout the 3-hour exercise. It promises to be fun and exciting, even for the grown ups!
Net/net think about ways you can help us grow these numbers and get us ready for the future, because there is so much that can and needs to be done to help people live better lives, everywhere!
In the meantime, feel free to check out our Blue Sky Virtual tour, or pass it on to your local high school! Game on!