Workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields play a direct role in driving economic growth. Employers nationwide are looking to fill jobs in STEM related fields. An increasing number of companies seeking STEM jobs take more than twice as long to fill as other openings yet of a skills gap that's slowing payroll growth job applicants across America. Many of these companies are looking in Arizona.
But, while Phoenix surges ahead as one of the nation's fastest growing tech economies, Tucson is slow to catch up. A study by the Brookings Institute shows Tucson jobs in STEM-related fields are not being filled because the population lacks proper training.
A study from the Brookings Institute found job openings for STEM fields are going unfilled in Tucson because its population has a dearth of knowledge in those areas.
One way to counter the population's lack of STEM training is to encourage young women to take an interest in those areas of study.
Several different organizations in Tucson have introduced programs dedicated to encouraging young people -- and especially young girls -- to explore STEM. One such organization is Wise (Women in Science Education), which is led by Dr. November Papaleo. Wise makes it their mission to teach girls not to fear taking on STEM careers. The girls in the program have "an opportunity to know that they can do STEM, that they are qualified to do STEM," Papaleo explains.
Papaleo says the best place to kick-start the next generation of STEM employees is at home, and encourages parents to talk to their kids about science. She hopes her outreach in Southern Arizona will eventually bring more workers into Tucson's STEM economy.
"Even if [these girls] don't necessarily have an interest in it -- it's not something they need to be scared of.”