Misha Malyshev: Why supporting STEM education is good for business

Our nation’s scientists, engineers and innovators have driven the achievements that are positioning the U.S. as a global leader. With fewer American students pursuing expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and a shortage of teachers skilled in those subjects, our leadership position is vulnerable.


It is imperative that American students move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math, and we must increase the number of proficient students and teachers in these vital fields.


To accomplish these goals, enterprises need to partner with nonprofits, civic groups, policymakers and educational institutions to support the effort. STEM education is good for businesses across industries for a multitude of reasons.



Encourages problem-solving
Professionals face seemingly unending questions on a daily basis and don’t always have the answers. STEM education teaches people to ask questions, think creatively and focus on solving complex problems.


Some of our most important breakthroughs in STEM are inadvertent; they were achieved through the rigorous exploration of concepts and ideas related to other problems. Sometimes the search for answers to one problem prompts new questions and additional avenues to be explored. Not only is this OK, it is a vital step in ensuring that we continue on a trajectory of achievement and excellence.



Creates opportunity through exposure
Today there is a need in Chicago and across the country for youth and teens to have a better understanding of new jobs — many of which are STEM-focused — in the current and future economy.


Studies show that the more people are exposed to STEM and related career opportunities at an early age, the more likely they are to join those fields. Exposure, coupled with quality mentorship, is everything. This combination will lead to a passion for and pursuit of a career in STEM fields.



Allow people to move forward
Through participation in STEM initiatives and hard work, the next generation can achieve its dreams and compete on a level playing field. Organizations comprised of such individuals will benefit in spades by achieving greater levels of efficiency and innovation.


Opportunities in STEM careers are certain to grow, and as such, a STEM-centric education must be targeted toward males and females alike. Promoting STEM learning to young women is imperative, as women currently represent only 24 percent of the STEM workforce.



Improves critical skills
Areas of study focused on STEM provide professionals with a solid foundation to secure advanced positions with top companies in various industries including health care, industrial, financial services and more. STEM is important for critical thinking and skills such as research that apply across sectors.


When businesses support STEM education, they are playing a critical role in helping ensure that the U.S. remains the economic and technological leader of the 21st century’s global marketplace. This should be one of, if not the, most important priorities for businesses looking toward the future.