The Workforce of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ Needs STEM

The Workforce of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ Needs STEM

The Class of 2019 – graduating high school, technical, trade and college students – is entering the workforce, anxious to match their education with career opportunities, but those who received some form of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education can breathe a little easier. Because the majority of workplace innovations – especially those at ILC Dover – will continue to evolve around STEM.

Today’s graduates will become part of what the World Economic Forum calls “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” an era defined by increased innovation, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, big data and ubiquitous internet connectivity. According to its 2018 “Future of Jobs Report:” 

  • Nearly 50 percent of companies expect that automation will result in some reduction in workforce. However, 38 percent expect to extend their workforce to new roles, and nearly a quarter see automation creating new jobs.
  • The increasing use of algorithms and artificial intelligence will extend that impact beyond manufacturing positions. Machines will “learn” to analyze, decide, communicate and interact, taking over jobs once thought to require human “thinking” in areas such as customer service, finance and research.

Different jobs will require different (STEM) skills

This isn’t a far-off future state; the report looks at trends for 2018-2022. The good news: the report predicts an overall increase in jobs. But they’ll be different jobs, requiring retraining and “reskilling” of existing workers, and education and training that prepares incoming workers. Any discussion of education students for the future invariably includes STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

We need a new generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians

ILC Dover has supported STEM for decades. We have a dedicated group of people who regularly visit classrooms and support community outreach events. It’s rewarding to see the space suits we developed for NASA engage teachers and students 40 years after they were worn on the moon. Of course, we have reason to be excited by that: the generation of students who were inspired by Apollo will soon be looking to retirement rather than space. We need a new generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians for ILC Dover to continue to reach “beyond boundaries.”

We learned we can multiply the impact of our efforts by targeting educators. For example, we’ve brought teachers in to show them how we apply the very same principles they’re discussing in their classrooms. Using our Mars lander airbags to demonstrate energy transfer provides a real-world (or should we say, ‘out of this world?’) application that they can incorporate into their lesson plans.

And for the second time, ILC Dover has sponsored Advanced Academics teacher Jenny Rovner of Wilson Elementary in Newark, Del. to attend the NASA LiftOff Summer Institute, held at The Greene School in West Palm Beach and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida from July 27 – 31, 2019.

Delaware can be the “first state” of STEM

Delaware can be the “first state” of STEM. We have manufacturing, finance, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. We have technology companies such as ILC Dover, Gore, Air Liquide and what is perhaps the country’s first science company: DuPont. We have the leadership of Delaware Bioscience Association, the Delaware Foundation for Science and Math Education (DFSME) and the Delaware STEM Council.

When a task as simple as mounting a tire on a new car involves an electronic sensor, we cannot think of STEM as a learning “track;” it is core to education. At ILC Dover, we remain committed to advancing STEM. Our future depends upon it. So, too, does the future workforce.