How STEM Careers Are Opening Doors for Latinos
Culture Some groundbreaking new programs are increasing Latinos’ presence in the professional world by emphasizing new careers.
Jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are the fastest growing of all sectors: about 1 million jobs will be introduced into the market by 2022.
Latino students are also a large and growing student population. In order to fulfill the needs of a changing workforce and foster the innovation and creativity that diversity provides, we must give more Latino students the means to succeed in STEM fields.
Excelencia in Education’s analysis has found the number of Latinos earning credentials in STEM has increased—from 8 to 9 percent between 2010 and 2013. But we still represent a small percentage of all degrees conferred. These are concentrated in a small number of colleges and, after graduation, in lower-paying service jobs rather than professional occupations.
However, some programs have been attempting to encourage greater commitment to STEM careers, leading to increased achievement in higher education and better employment after graduation.
This begins with partnerships in K-12 schools. Piquing interest early gives students an edge when the time to submit college applications arrives. Universities and employers are helping to continue the trend.
“Employers in the STEM fields can continue to encourage more Latino students to succeed in STEM by partnering with institutions to help Latino students explore career opportunities.”
At Iowa State University, Science Bound prepares Latino, African American and Native American middle and high school students to pursue careers in STEM fields. It offers full tuition to students who fulfill requirements like extracurricular work in math and science, campus visits to ISU, a college enrollment workshop and job shadowing.
The ARMAS Center at New Mexico Highlands University provides another great example of how a partnership with mentors can shape student success. Between 2010 and 2014, ARMAS placed students in 99 paid internships with 22 community partners and faculty research mentors. Students who participated in ARMAS in Fall 2012 were four times more likely to have graduated with STEM degrees or still be enrolled than those who did not.
Institutions can also engage Latino alumni as mentors, who can offer career opportunities and advice. They help Latino students engage in research and develop professional skills—and a professional identity—that will serve them in the future.
Employers in the STEM fields can continue to encourage more Latino students to succeed in STEM by partnering with institutions to help Latino students explore career opportunities. They can provide further mentoring and opportunities for professional experience, like internships.
Additions like these give Latino and other students the tools they need to succeed in STEM fields, and it gives them the degrees—and the confidence—to take on the rewarding challenges of a STEM career. Excelencia is proud to raise awareness and support those committed to helping Latino students earn the degrees that will prepare them for the jobs of the future.