It’s hard to avoid news stories these days detailing the teacher shortage gripping public schools across the United States. Last year, the Learning Policy Institute wrote of the teacher pipeline crisis. LPI even developed an interesting map that addressed the issue, state by state.
Some organizations have sought to address the issue by focusing on the quality and rigor of teacher preparation programs. Others, like Educators Rising, have taken on the issue by trying to expand the teacher pipeline, including by recruiting high school students for future careers in the classroom.
Regardless of which way one approaches the issue, it is clear that much work must be done to inform today’s students on tomorrow’s careers as educators. Recent data from our research partners show that just 3.6 percent of today’s high school students aspire to become teachers.
At a time when states and school districts know that at least 800,000 teaching positions will need to be filled in the coming years, and at a time when prospective educators prepared to fill jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), special education, or English Language Learners (ELL) can have their choice of jobs in virtually any major school system in the nation, we struggle to find those high school students who want to follow in the footsteps of the very educators who inspire them to succeed.
While we often talk to kids about cyber security and the need to protect their personal online information, are we properly educating them about the possibilities of cyber-security careers and the skills and knowledge to obtain such jobs?
As we recognize National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the answer to that question is that there is a shortfall. With so much discussion of STEM in the classroom, the focus is largely on science and math. The lucky students will get some form of technology instruction, while many will miss the opportunity.
Yet not a week goes by when we don’t see cyber security in the news and understand the need for student interest in the field. According to recent statistics, cyber-security jobs are expected to increase 18 percent by the year 2024, with median job pay of $90,000 per year. Yes, it is a growth industry, but it is not one that parents are discussing with their children.
We hear more often that students are beginning to consider career pathways at earlier and earlier ages. But as today’s students dream about their futures, it is essential that they have access to research-based knowledge of those career pathways.
Last year, educators from across the country worked with their students to gather valuable information on what today’s learners believe is most important when it comes to career knowledge. While the results may be surprising to some, they provide valuable insights on career aspirations of our students and how educators can help them achieve those goals.
The below info graphic, developed by the Student Research Foundation, provides just one piece of the information gained from the student perceptions data gathered by ERCA and its partners. In the coming weeks, we will share additional data points, information that can help all teachers better guide their students toward meaningful college and career paths.
To many the United States is still enjoying the Industrial Age, a time that began as we entered the 19th century. As the country shifted from the agrarian age, we say the introduction of the steam engine, the iron industry, and other such developments that signaled the shift in our economy and our American workforce.
Some see the current age, as we shift from an industrial economy to a digital, information society as a move from that Industrial Age. But as Klaus Schwaub, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum has written, we are actually entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR. It is a time identified with robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and other advances that were considered part of the science fiction of the first through third Industrial Revolutions.
As we enter 4IR, one thing is clear. We need to prepare the students of both today and tomorrow in ways that were different from the past as we ready learners for the possibilities and the jobs of the future. When we moved from an agrarian to an industrial economy, we saw a major shift in education. In the U.S., the industrial age meant a free public education available to all students. It meant more and more individuals pursuing postsecondary education. And it meant shifting from the skills needed for the farm to the skills needed for a factory.
While we all know there is no such thing as an “average” teacher, particularly with so many demands placed on educators these days, Education Week recently developed a strong package on what the teaching profession looks like today.
The video and accompanying editorial piece look to U.S. Department of Education survey data to give a clearer picture of what teachers look like today. Among the highlights:
- The average teacher today has 14 years of experience
- That average teacher is a 42-year-old white woman, and male teachers are getting harder and harder to find
- The average teacher works 53 hours in an average week
- The number of Hispanic teachers is on the rise