We’re so excited to highlight RTI International’s commitment to STEM education through our new partner blog series for STEM RTP partners! RTI has been a staunch supporter of our mission to bring STEM to local educators and students since 2015. Read all about their commitment, and call to action below. – STEM RTP
By Jim Gibson, Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer, RTI International
The United States has one of the best education systems in the world yet consistently scores lower than many other countries in math and science benchmarks. Among the developed countries assessed by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), U.S. students continue to rank around the middle, behind many other advanced industrial nations.
The OECD conducts the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a global exam administered every three years to measure 15-year-old students’ reading, math and science literacy. Compared to the 77 other education systems covered in PISA 2018, the U.S. average mathematics literacy score was lower than the average in 30 education systems, and the average science literacy score was lower than the average in 11 education systems. If not addressed, these deficiencies will diminish our capacity for economic competitive advantage.
Faced with global digital transformation and technological business advances, demand for STEM-related jobs will likely increase, along with a growing skills gap. The workforce simply doesn’t have enough workers and skilled candidates to fill an ever-increasing number of STEM jobs.
To keep pace with a growing reliance on technology and innovation, we must rapidly evolve existing STEM skills. Meeting the needs of a future workforce will require a significant boost in STEM education. Many U.S. companies are relying on education systems exclusively to identify and develop those needed skills. However, in reality, it will take a partnership between the public and private arenas to address our growing STEM educational needs.
In North Carolina, RTI International is a longtime member of STEM RTP’s network of community partners who are working to foster an ecosystem of STEM learning. Through this alliance, we’re working to provide opportunities that, among other things:
- Connect teachers to researchers and other experts for collaborating, reviewing and helping to design STEM activities and curricula
- Provide an opportunity for teachers to explore real-life lab settings
- Develop ongoing mentoring opportunities between RTI researchers and students and teachers
- Introduce students to the possibilities in STEM careers
Still, more can be done by organizations in collaboration with education systems to ensure that the U.S. workforce is prepared for the future of work. I challenge other businesses to join us in alliance with STEM RTP to help provide students the critical learning skills needed to pursue STEM careers. Our students—and our future—are depending on us.