The Authentic STEM program exists at the innovative intersection of workforce development, educational expansion, business involvement and community enrichment. Drawing from the private sector, nonprofit, and government, Authentic STEM pioneers an innovative approach to career pathways for students, a new paradigm for employers looking to engage with the future workforce and an opportunity to rethink the role of educational institutions.
Building Authentic STEM-related partnerships demonstrates how high-level and reliable data are essential for communicating the importance of the program to the local and regional economic development efforts.
This tool includes several factors highlighting the need of Authentic STEM, including the impact of STEM-based career orientation and career pathways and how they contribute to the local and regional economies.
By offering students from middle school to high school a hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, Authentic STEM presents the opportunity to embrace a lucrative career path that may have appeared inaccessible to them. According to Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, workers who pursued a bachelor’s degree in the STEM field earned, on the average, 15 per cent more than their counterparts nationwide ($101,100 versus $87,600). Even those who pursued certifications or associate degrees are shown to earn 10 per cent more than their counterparts.
Developing the next generation of leaders in these sectors can benefit taxpayers by increasing the economic output of these individuals, touching local retailers, the real estate market, financial institutions, and regional governments in the form of an increased tax base.
Authentic STEM recognizes that STEM is not just the future of the U.S. workforce, but it is its present. According to one study, “Scientific literacy is the new demand of our post-industrial society.”. Leaders at all levels must recognize the ever-shifting landscape the world faces and rise to meet those demands, particularly as there is increased global competition in these sectors. The program is designed to help increase American competitiveness by providing concrete opportunities for students to engage in these otherwise unknown fields, opening their eyes to future possibilities – all within their own local and/or regional area.
In addition to expanded career pathways, Authentic STEM allows employers to foster meaningful relationships with their future employees. Developing a skilled workforce with mentoring and experience in local businesses helps create meaningful relationships that will present these businesses as preferred employers following training.
According to a recent study by Deloitte, a skills gap is growing in the STEM sectors, threatening to reach 2.1 million jobs by 2030. Intentional investment in expanded training and exposure to students throughout their primary and secondary education can help close this skills gap and secure the future for employers and communities.
As the Authentic STEM program ignites a passion for STEM, it offers communities a myriad of secondary benefits as these students pursue their educational pathways. According to a study by the RAND Corporation, highly engaged students who pursue higher education contribute to increased tax revenues, additional funds for social support and insurance programs, and reduced spending on incarceration. The positive community impact of STEM education alone presents a significant return on investment for taxpayers, but the increased revenue in government and private sectors is noteworthy.
Finally, public support for expanded and innovative STEM education that supports workforce development has broad, bipartisan support. While private employers, public and private educators, and nonprofits can lead the charge, the support of political leaders offers unparalleled opportunities for the program’s success, both regionally and nationally. As one report summarizes: “The payoff—or consequences, really—should remain clear: If we fail to train our workforce, the economy will suffer”.”
For all the above reasons, the NCWP and the University of Siegen believe that regions, states, and countries will positively feel the effects of Authentic STEM. Investing in students, expanding equitable access to training, fostering relationships between future employees and employers and raising the earning potential for residents present a compelling case for partnerships at all levels.
STEM Occupation Current and Projected Numbers
Below are downloadable statistics to understand and chart the growth of STEM careers in your areas. National numbers are also included to show how the initiation of Authentic STEM in local geography supports national economic efforts.
The statistics date to September 2022 and are sourced from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wage data cover non-farm wage and salary workers and do not cover the self-employed, owners and partners in unincorporated firms, or household workers.
In this representation, STEM occupations include:
Computer and mathematical,
Architecture and engineering,
Life and physical science occupations,
Managerial and postsecondary teaching occupations related to these functional areas, and
Sales occupations requiring scientific or technical knowledge at the postsecondary level.
 Correia, P. R. M., do Valle, B. X., Dazzani, M., & Infante-Malachias, M. E. (2010). The importance of scientific literacy in fostering education for sustainability: Theoretical considerations and preliminary findings from a Brazilian experience. Journal of Cleaner Production, 18(7), 678–685. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2009.09.011