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STEM workers punch above their weight in contributing to innovation and productivity in the digital economy. But economic projections show that demand for STEM skills is growing faster than the number of workers with STEM skills. Part of the problem has been that countries’ investments in increasing STEM graduates have not yet produced appreciable results—the level of interest and graduation rates in STEM fields both have remained stable since the 1980s.
But if countries can get their STEM education policies right, they will be well positioned to capture maximum benefit from the expanding digital economy. London School of Economics research assistant Marta De Philippis finds that tweaking subject curriculum can foster a student’s interest in STEM fields. Using education data from the U.K., she estimates that when a student takes more science classes in secondary school, it increases the student’s probability of enrolling in a university STEM program by 1.5 percentage points, and it increases the probability that the student will eventually graduate with a STEM degree by 3 percentage points.
Although the United States education system is finally showing some attention to computer science education, much more can be done to improve it, as ITIF reports in “The Case for Improving U.S. Computer Science Education.”