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Youth Unlikely To Pursue Science, Technology, Engineering Jobs, Survey Finds
Though President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address stressed the need for a competitive workforce, especially in more technical fields such as energy, young Americans see massive barriers to entering such professions, according to survey results released Wednesday.
Sixty percent of respondents ages 16 to 25 to the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, which seeks to gauge innovation aptitude among young adults, named at least one factor that prevented them from pursuing further education or work in science, technology, engineering and math fields (known as STEM). Thirty-four percent said they "don't know much about these fields," while a third said "these fields are too challenging." Twenty-eight percent said they weren't "well-prepared in school to seek out a career or further ... [their] education in these fields."
Meanwhile, 47 percent of respondents noted that a lack of innovation "would hurt the U.S. economy" and 80 percent said they'd be interested in courses that would help them "become more inventive and creative." While 26 percent noted they're motivated to choose careers for stability, 22 percent said they would be inspired by jobs that would give them a chance "to change the world."
"It's reassuring: youth are invested in helping others. They want to be altruistic. It gives us cause to be optimistic," said Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program, a Massachusetts Institution of Technology-based group that administered the survey for the 16th year. "At the same time, we found there's a real lack of knowledge in STEM education and the things that motivate young people to go into."