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Work-Force Demand For STEM Students Spurs Efforts at Community Colleges

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Community colleges are being targeted as a natural fit for increasing STEM graduates, given efforts already in progress to encourage low-income women and minorities to pursue STEM careers.

Credit: Ventureramp, Inc.

Community colleges are stepping up efforts to turn out science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates.

Post-secondary education will be required for 92 percent of STEM workers by 2018, according to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. Although about 65 percent of STEM job openings will require a bachelor's degree, postsecondary schools have not focused enough on the 35 percent of openings that will require a certificate or associate degree, the center says.

With efforts underway to encourage low-income women and minorities to pursue STEM careers, community colleges with their diverse enrollment are a natural fit to increase STEM graduates.

The first step for community colleges is to make students more aware of STEM jobs openings, but several obstacles exist to enticing students to STEM majors. Community-college students are more likely than other college students to face financial challenges and to be juggling work and family demands with school, so they are reluctant to undertake lengthy STEM programs. In addition, many students view STEM fields as "uncool," requiring schools to improve the culture around the field.

Furthermore, well over 50 percent of students entering community colleges require remedial courses and drop out before even reaching credit courses.

From Chronicle of Higher Education
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