At least 8 million of the jobs available to college graduates in 2018 will be in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions. Even though nearly all sectors where job growth is occurring require a variety of STEM skills, efforts to build a STEM-skilled workforce currently fall short.
Community colleges are uniquely positioned to grow the pipeline of STEM professionals and produce more STEM-skilled workers. Community colleges provide affordable, accessible postsecondary options and are often less bureaucratic, allowing them to respond rapidly to changing economic and workforce needs and align credential production to industry demand.
States can use policy and funding strategies to bolster STEM education and STEM-related workforce skills by:
- Engaging business to help ensure that community colleges meet regional STEM-skill needs,
- Using community colleges to support new models of STEM education,
- Rewarding community colleges and students for STEM course-completion,
- Ensuring that community colleges support more effective mathematics remediation, and
- Requiring that community college STEM credits and credentials are transferable and stackable.