Here’s a staggering statistic. Last summer, the U.S. Department of Commerce published a report stating they expect job opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math—typically called ‘STEM’ fields—to grow by 17 percent by 2018 [PDF]. Sadly, current predictions state that American-educated workers will fill only a small number of those available jobs. But this does not have to be the case; we can close the gap between STEM opportunities and available qualified employees. At Neustar, we are committed to helping educate future applicants.
Just last week we launched My Digital Life, a program designed not only to help students understand the technology they encounter on a daily basis, but also to encourage students to learn computer science at a young age.
“For us, it’s not just about digital literacy, not just about making children feel safe, but it’s about conducting businesses on the Internet,” said Neustar President and CEO Lisa Hook. “Frankly we’d like all Virginians to grow up with a STEM education. We’re living in a world of digital natives, so we have to make them understand cyber bullying and security, but also encourage them to study science, technology, engineering and math.”
The program, which also launched in Kentucky earlier this month, fits nicely with STEM programs already underway in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Governor Bob McDonnell’s Opportunity to Learn program, a recent initiative, provides incentives to educators with a STEM background to teach applied science, technology and math.
“We’re doing things to promote STEM education in our schools because young folks that have a command of these disciplines will have a greater ability to get great jobs, particularly in Virginia,” Governor McDonnell said. “[This program is] yet another example of private sector entrepreneurs in the technology space working together with educators to help create an even better way for the young people of Virginia to learn, to flourish, and ultimately prepare them to be better citizens.”
My Digital Life is an interactive, new-media learning platform that combines the power of cutting-edge instructional design, rich media and gaming. The 3.5-hour curriculum targets 8th and 9th grade students and covers a wide range of topics including privacy, security, cyber bullying, digital relationships and digital addiction. The curriculum also focuses on building digital skills, such as creating a blog, maintaining a responsible social networking profile and evaluating online research sources for legitimacy. We’ve partnered with EverFi to bring this program to any Virginia school interested in implementing it—free of charge.