Today, Neustar announced that we are bringing My Digital Life—a digital literacy program that teaches kids about technology and how to use it responsibly—to middle and high schools throughout California. As a technology company, we know how important tools such as social media and smart phones have become in our daily lives. We know their importance will only increase with time and we understand how important it is to ensure that our kids use technology wisely and safely.
Exposing kids to the power of technology early may also have the added benefit of sparking their interest in careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM)—fields that desperately need qualified employees. There are roughly 3.3 million job openings in the U.S. today, and half of employers say they have a hard time finding qualified workers to hire, particularly in technical fields.
Even at Neustar, with offices in technology hotbeds like Silicon Valley and Northern Virginia, we have trouble finding qualified employees to fill our open technical positions. And as bad as it is now, the story looks like it will get even worse. For example, experts estimate that by 2018 there will be 1.4 million computing job openings in America, but only about 400,000 U.S. computing graduates to fill them.
The lack of STEM-educated graduates in America is a very real problem, particularly when you look at our global competitors. One assessment of student performance in math and science now ranks the U.S. 25th in math and 17th in science when compared to other countries around the world. Only one-quarter of America’s 52 million K-12 students are performing on par with the average student in Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, Taiwan, or South Korea, while 25 percent of our high school students fail to graduate.
We need to get our kids excited about STEM. Kids need to be exposed to science, technology, engineering and math at an early age. We need to continue to foster that interest throughout middle and high school. If kids understand how the technology in their lives works and how to use it in positive ways, then maybe they’ll start thinking about pursuing careers in technology. If students understand the importance of privacy, security, and building better digital skills, we hope they will be interested in being part of improving today’s technology tools for tomorrow’s generation.
At Neustar, we want to take an active role in changing the future. That is why we are investing in My Digital Life.