In the aftermath of the “CES 2017 head rush,” I turned my attention away from the “tech of it” this past week and reflected instead on the “people of it.” And it was at that point, I came down off the “CES high” and got back to reality, real quick!
The reality is that there’s a lot of work ahead of us to realize the “vision(s)” driving these new and exciting digital products, offerings, and business models. My fear is that there are simply not enough people to do it! Such a gargantuan effort will be required to design “things” and ecosystems, to build them, to integrate them, to connect them, to secure them, to manage them, and of course to leverage the resulting data; and when I added it all up in my mind, I said: “there’s NO WAY!”
Before I became too freaked out, I decided to do some research and turned to the US Labor Department and 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. 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 CEOs 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:
Looks like some terrific stats that would really get people motivated, right? You would think so, but look at the slow growth in the number 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. Only a 14% average increase in STEM jobs forecast between now and 2020. According to the White House, there are currently 545,000 technology-related job openings in the US. 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, please 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 that are looking for a new challenge!
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 (just send me a note on LinkedIn here). Our center is loaded with engineers, technology experts, and really cool technology. Your group will love it! Blue Sky is 100,000 square feet 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 the device to find their way around your veins versus poking around for them! Improving a doctor’s visit through technology was what many of them will walk away remembering.
In addition to Blue Sky, our Radius Chicago studio will be hosting an event with Project SYNCERE:
On January 21st, Radius Innovation & Development will be hosting a group of 30 students from Project SYNCERE 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!
Let’s 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!