STEM Education geared for growth in Kuwait

The world is changing at a rapid pace.  It’s not easy out there.  With the technological advancements and the emergence of interconnectedness brought on by the power of internet and technology, the learning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) has increasingly been viewed as a critical ingredient of learning in K-12 education.  The importance of integrating STEM as a learning tool into the curriculum for K-12 students is critical to help students prepare for the future. 

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region retains the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, at 28.2 and 30.5 per cent, respectively.  Yet there’s a global STEM skills shortage, and in the Middle East academic qualifications in engineering, computer science and IT are some of the most sought after by employers.  They need more graduates with Maths, Sciences, research and problem-solving – which means that you’ll be in the best position to pick a job, and a career, that challenges and inspires you.

The case of STEM in Kuwait

Kuwait’s drive for economic diversification and the development of knowledge-intensive sectors to provide jobs for its young population makes STEM education a necessity to be integrated into the conventional educational programs of K-12 education.  Moreover, Kuwait’s long-term development plan places a strong emphasis on STEM education as a catalyst to economic diversification, sustainable growth and social progress. There is an extensive investment from the government towards supporting innovation in education. The private sector has a strong presence, educating more than 40% of pupils in the country, and it is expanding even more rapidly than the public education system, as demographics and economic growth drive demand.

With economic diversification and the creation of meaningful jobs for young Kuwaitis, Educational leaders as well as Business leaders in the Kuwait’s economy are keen to ensure STEM learning education programs are integrated in the students’ curriculum in order to prepare students for the demands of the workforce.

Kuwait’s cultural tradition of valuing education is strong.  Kuwaitis have attended some of the world’s best universities for decades. The government has invested heavily in the sector.  However, Kuwait’s educational performance continues to rank behind that of high-income countries, as seen in the World Economic Forum’s (The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016). On the quality of its primary education, the state ranked 103rd out of 140 economies, 88th on the overall quality of higher education and training, 99th on mathematics and science education, and 86th on school management. 

Overview of the STEM Global Industry 

Technology is integrated into every aspect of our lives.  Students worldwide are digital natives, who have grown up with an iProduct and smartphones in their hands. Popular interest in robotics has increased at an astonishing rate in the last several years.  The world is rapidly changing, and public & private schools are trying to prepare their students for the future by encouraging educational innovation and integrating coding and robotics in the K-12 education.  Computational thinking is increasingly being viewed in the USA and UK as an important ingredient of STEM learning in primary, middle and secondary education.  

By 2030, more than 20 million jobs in STEM will be unfulfilled (Geek Express Co., 2020). Additionally, studies have proved that learning STEM from an early age increases logical thinking and cognitive skills amongst kids by 40%.  Therefore, the increase of STEM learning is critical to expand the number of students worldwide in order to pursue advanced degrees and attain careers in STEM related fields.  

Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data presented a comprehensive analysis of the STEM workforce from 1990 to 2016 based on a study of adults ages 25 and older working in any of 74 occupations in the States. These include computer, math, engineering and architecture occupations, physical scientists, life scientists, and health-related occupations such as health care practitioners and technicians, but not health care support workers such as nursing aides and medical assistants.  

Here are some important facts about the STEM workforce & STEM Learning: 

  1. STEM workers enjoy a higher pay advantage compared with non-STEM workers with similar levels of education. Among those with some college education, the typical full-time, year-round STEM worker earns $54,745 while a similarly educated non-STEM worker earns $40,505, or 26% less.
  1. Almost 35% of the STEM workforce do not hold a bachelor’s degree.  Although STEM workers tend to be highly educated, however, roughly a third have not completed a bachelor’s or higher-level degree. Overall, about 15% reported having completed an associate degree, these workers are more prevalent among health care practitioners and technicians, computer workers and engineers.
  1. About half of workers with college training in a STEM field are working in a non-STEM job.  About 36% of STEM workers have a bachelor’s degree but no graduate degree, while 29% have earned a master’s, doctorate or professional degree. Life scientists are the most highly educated among STEM workers, with 54%, on average. Among adults with a STEM college major, women are more likely than men to work in a STEM occupation (56% vs. 49%). This difference is driven mainly by college graduates with a health profession major (such as nursing or pharmacy), most of whom are women.
  1. STEM training in college is correlated with higher earnings, whether working in a STEM occupation or not. The median earnings for those who have a STEM college major are $81,011, compared with $60,828 for other college majors.
  1. The share of women differs generally across STEM job types. Women remain understated in engineering (14%), computer (25%) and physical science (39%) occupations.

Women have made significant gains in life and physical sciences, but in other areas as in computer jobs their share has declined. Overall, the share of women has been roughly stable in several other STEM job groups.  

Sources: PEW Research Center

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