Preparing the Next Generation to Fill Tech Positions
According to the Department of Labor tech positions are still the biggest trend in employment. Tech positions are expected to grow by about 11% over the next decade outgrowing all other occupations combined.
Preparing the next generation for tech positions starts with instilling a love of STEM. Getting kids involved with STEM early on can set them up for success in their careers down the road. Inspiring kids to be science and technology leaders is exactly what FIRST is all about.
The STEM Tech Positions Connection
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is the backbone of tech positions. Engineers used to be a term reserved for people that built things, designed equipment, and provided other design support. Today, engineering can mean the same but you can add computer engineering to the definition.
STEM education is key to providing the foundation for tech positions. Fostering a love of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is the key to developing the future leaders of tomorrow in the tech industries.
Organizations like FIRST make it fun for kids to learn about STEM subjects. When learning is fun it helps to nurture a love for the subject. First is doing a great job of getting kids involved and pushing them down the path of STEM learning.
Igniting the Flame
Private schools often are rife with opportunities to really immerse in STEM subjects, as are charter schools that have STEM subjects as their focus, but public schools often lack the resources to offer STEM development classes.
Nurturing a love of the sciences is the path to helping children set their sites on those valuable tech positions. Whether it is working for an app development company or focusing on managing CAD development, a love for STEM subjects will propel a child into those fields.
The future is dependent upon the children of today to keep us moving in the right direction. First works with children from kindergarten on up to ignite a passion in STEM fields and tech positions that will create the leaders that will improve society through technology.
What is FIRST?
Dean Kamen founded FIRST as an answer to close the learning gap when it came to STEM subjects. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 at the cusp of the technology revolution.
As a new demand was emerging for tech positions to be filled Dean Kamen envisioned how that demand would increase exponentially over the coming decades. He knew that tech positions were more than the wave of the future, these positions would be the future.
He started FIRST as a means to prepare the next generations to be ready for the positions that were going to need to be filled. Whether it was working with dedicated servers or robotic development, it was going to be vital to get kids interested in STEM to be ready to take the helm someday.
The impact of FIRST has had some amazing results not just for filling up those tech positions but by helping develop learners that become leaders in their industry. While FIRST focuses on robotics, it is not the only thing that is taught.
Today, tech positions are evident in a wide range of fields that you may not expect to be tech oriented. For example, a marketing consultant does more than marketing businesses today. Internet marketing is the backbone to any marketing scheme today.
How do you market a business, increase brand awareness, and help a business reach its goals, through the use of technology. Tech positions in marketing are not a stand alone position they are highly integrated with the marketing consultants regular job duties.
The litany of “tech positions” that fall under the header of other job titles is tremendous. Even the most mundane positions are at least partially tech positions. For example, working in call centers. Seems like it is a low tech job but the fact is on a daily basis you are working with technology.
From managing server needs to making a call, tech knowledge is at the forefront of even working in a call center and providing customer service. Dean Kamen knew back in 1989 that technology, science, engineering, and mathematics was going to play a vital role in workforce needs over the coming decades, and he acted.
What Does FIRST Do?
Closing the gap is an important part of what FIRST does. The technology gap can be cavernous. FIRST focuses on equity in serving communities. By providing access to STEM activities to children regardless of income level, color, or gender they have been helping to close the gap that is often left in school settings.
FIRST provides community grants to help with the upstart of community teams. They expand the FIRST vision by providing support in underserved communities. Through their community outreach programs they are reaching children that typically would not have access to this type of learning and fun.
FIRST works hard to navigate the obstacles that have excluded children from STEM activities. They work to remove the barriers so that every child has an equal opportunity to participate in FIRST program activities.
By providing grants to support community programs in underserved communities FIRST is effectively taking steps to close the technology divide that is often created because of socioeconomic conditions. Children are able to participate in the FIRST program and develop a love of STEM.
FIRST focuses on equity, diversity, and inclusion so that each child that wants the chance will have the chance to participate. It is a phenomenal program that opens doors that some children would never have opened any other way.
FIRST has a history of getting kids involved in challenges that really gets them thinking. The Lego League Explore, The Tech Challenge, Robotics Competition, Lego League Challenge, and other programs have gotten amazing results.
Not only do these programs get kids involved in STEM, but it also helps them to learn how to think analytically and become problem solvers. FIRST helps children to develop into exactly what the world needs now and in the future. FIRST kids become problem solvers.
How Do they Do It?
FIRST has some big name partner sponsors that support the initiative. These partner sponsors are investing in their future tech workforce by providing support for the FIRST program. Big names like Disney, Lego, 3M, Dow, Apple, Caterpillar, John Deere, and others have found FIRST to be a worthy cause and have invested in the program generously.
Of course, many of these companies have a stake in filling future tech positions. They stand fully behind the FIRST program as a way to nurture future leaders. Someday these organizations will need to fill their executive offices and they will want to fill them with the best talent they can. FIRST is creating that talent.
How Can You Help
Interested in shaping the next generation and getting them ready for tech positions that will change the world? You can take a few different roads to support FIRST:
- Donate. You can write a check.
- Become a coach.
- Become a mentor.
You can help out by donating to FIRST. Writing a check or making a monthly donation can be a great way to help even the playing field when it comes to STEM exposure. You can also become a corporate sponsor.
You can volunteer your time. Volunteering at FIRST can help you to really be a part of the action. You can be a coach or mentor. You do not need to have a lot of experience to make a difference. Training is provided for all volunteers.
If you do not have the time to volunteer to be a coach or a mentor, you can volunteer at events. There is an option for everyone that wants to get involved and volunteer at FIRST.
The Advocacy Program
Do you think that STEM subjects are vitally important for kids? Are you of the understanding that tech positions are critical to making the world a better place for everyone? If you do then you can get involved in the FIRST Advocacy Network and become an advocate for kids and STEM subjects.
When you join FIRST Advocacy Network you are giving the resources that you need to help make the changes that are warranted. First advocates for getting more funding from cities and states to support STEM programs in schools.
Joining the advocacy network can put you in the position of lobbying with a dedicated network of like minded people to make the changes that are needed to ensure that every child has access to STEM subjects being taught in school.
Advocates are given email updates about projected school funding and more to help them stay on the cusp of information that will affect STEM programs in schools around the country. It is a way to get involved and make some real changes.
Kids that are involved in FIRST take the skill sets that they learned while participants and go on to do great things. About 78% of FIRST alumni go on to work in some sort of STEM field. Most wind up working in tech positions.
Here are some other reported facts about the FIRST alumni:
- 83% felt more confident after participating in FIRST
- 78% of alumni report feeling more confident in their time management skills
- 72% report having access to STEM mentors because of FIRST
The skills that children learn in FIRST prime them for high paying tech positions but they are also primed for success in any field. A kid that participates in FIRST programs will feel more confident in applying for small business lending to open their own business. They will feel more ready for college.
90% of the alumni of FIRST programs report that they gained problem solving skills, 85% learned perseverance, 90% learned teamwork, 87% learned innovative thinking, the list of skills acquired from participation in the FIRST program are skills that will serve children well in any field.
While the organization (FIRST) does not directly award scholarships there is an extensive list of providers that do award scholarships to FIRST program participants. From universities to private donors, to corporate sponsors there is a lot of scholarship money available to FIRST participants that are headed to college and plan on majoring in STEM.
Each provider has its own application process. This opportunity provides much needed support for kids that want a college education and plan on going into one of the many STEM fields. Some of these scholarships can provide the financial support that can be the difference between attending college and not.
In the US the cost of college can be cost-prohibitive for many families. Participation in FIRST programs can help a child get on track with scholarships that will make the cost of attending university within reach. FIRST can open the door up to some really amazing opportunities.
FIRST participation can open up a world of opportunities to a kid that they dared not dream of before. FIRST is not only creating the future tech positions work force, but they are also helping children to find the opportunities that will catapult them to success.
Over 30 Years Of Change
There is no doubt that Dean Kamen had a vision of where the world would be today, and his vision was spot on. Tech positions have replaced many of the positions that were available just a couple of decades ago.
While not everyone is a Bill Gates or a Steve Job, everyone deserves the opportunity to discover if they are. Everyone deserves the opportunity to get the education that will make them a highly sought after candidate for high paying tech positions. FIRST is making it happen one community at a time. You can get involved and do your part to ensure that every child that wants to can learn about STEM and learn all the valuable skills that FIRST has to offer.
To continue to move forward and nurture those minds that will have a positive impact tomorrow, programs like FIRST are necessary. You never know where the next great idea or solution is going to come from. With programs like FIRST, we can rest assured that every child will have an opportunity to potentially become the next great problem solver. Get involved with FIRST and help to make a difference now and for our future.