September 21, 2017

The Importance of STEM Starts Early

by Natalia Bubis

The nature of the fenestration industry is changing. As several of my colleagues have written both on In Focus and throughout other industry blogs, technology advancements in automation and integrated software has necessitated that we begin thinking about what the employee of the future looks like. What sort of skills are needed? What should we be looking for in future hires as our operations become increasingly advanced?

Similar changes are happening throughout modern manufacturing and engineering at large. As such, jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are expected to grow 17 percent by 2024, representing one of the fastest-growing areas of the America economy.

The need for STEM education.
There’s been plenty of activity over the past several years with the goal of encouraging today’s youth to seek higher education in STEM fields. “This commitment will need to continue in order to ensure accessibility to a quality STEM education for all students if the U.S. is to remain globally competitive over the long term,” as noted in a recent op-ed for U.S. News and World Report.

Indeed, as it stands today, many employers are staring at a “skills gap,” particularly evident in STEM fields. According to a report from Bloomberg earlier in the year, “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that 5.6 million jobs remain unfilled because of a pernicious ‘skills gap’—or mismatch between employers’ needs and workers’ abilities…45 percent of C-suite executives say hiring is particularly difficult in so-called STEM fields.”
Companies must play a role.
To that end, our education system can’t be alone in inspiring interest and producing qualified people to drive industry innovation forward. As reported recently in another piece from U.S. News and World Report, Xerox Chairman Ursula Burns says companies have a significant role to play. Inspiring early interest through partnerships with schools and community centers can make a significant impact, she says. 

Chevron offers an example of one way that’s coming to life with numerous sponsorships and programs with educational organizations, local governments and communities. It’s partnership with the Fab Foundation, for instance, helps bring new fabrication labs to Chevron locations’ local communities. These “Fab Labs” feature hands-on activities with laser cutters, machinery, precision parts and more, offering local youth valuable exposure to the kinds of skills that are so needed in American industry.
Innovation depends on new, bright ideas—and those will come from tomorrow’s employees. Fenestration companies can and should be should be making an effort to foster interest in and furthering education in critical STEM fields, no matter how big or small those efforts might be.

Is your organization performing any sort of outreach in your community? I’d love to hear about it. Contact me directly at

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Posted: September 21, 2017 by Natalia Bubis Filed under: employee, hire, HR