Engineering Job Search Tips During Coronavirus

During the coronavirus pandemic, just about every industry has taken a hit. Many companies have laid off employees leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans wondering what the next step will be. With no set expiration date on this pandemic, it’s important to be as productive as you can during this time. If you’ve been laid off, are between jobs, or are just about to graduate with an engineering degree, these tips are for you.

1. Keep applying

Most companies are moving to remote work to comply with federal and state guidelines and it’s undoubtedly a big switch. This can take some time for a company to adjust and they might not be hiring right away, but don’t assume that you shouldn’t continue to send out resumes. If companies aren’t hiring now, they will be eventually. If you keep applying, your resume will be on file for the next time they need someone new. Be aware that available positions might disappear from the web for the time being. During a transition period like this, companies may be putting job openings on hold for a few weeks but they are likely to return!

2. Your next job doesn’t have to be your dream job

If you’ve had your eye set on a certain company or position but they’re not hiring right now, you have two options. You can put your job search on hold if you’re in a position to do that or you can find a job elsewhere so you can start generating some income. During an uncertain time like this, you don’t need to be looking for your dream engineering job. There are a handful of industries that still need help during coronavirus. Anything in the medical or medical supply industry is likely going to need help. It’s worth a quick Google search of different industries to see who’s hiring.

3. Find ways to build business relationships online

You shouldn’t give up on networking and building relationships just because you can’t meet someone in person! Get creative and take to the internet. Linkedin continues to be one of the best online resources for connecting people and building professional relationships. With all this free time on your hands, try to get on Linkedin and interact with people or companies for at least ten minutes a day. 

If you had a networking event or conference in your calendar, it’s likely been canceled. However, it could’ve been moved to a virtual platform! Check and see if your event has been moved online and afterward reach out to the organizers/speakers to continue the professional relationship. 

4. Stay in touch with hiring managers

We don’t mean to bug the hiring manager by repeatedly asking about the status of your application. After applying for a job, check in with the hiring manager by email to see where the company is at with future hiring in light of the pandemic. That being said, it’s important to acknowledge that the company may be scrambling during the transition from office to remote work. In your email, acknowledge that you know this isn’t an easy time for companies but you’re here to help whenever the company is ready to hire again. This thoughtful approach can connect with someone on a human level and could keep your name at the front of the application pile.

5. Use this time to perfect and reflect

The free time you have can be used in smart ways! You can perfect your resume or grow your skills to add even more to your resume. There are tons of online resources for learning new skills, earning certificates, or, if you’re already a professional engineer, earning continuing education credits! See what skills you can perfect with an online course. NJSPE offers continuing education courses here

It’s also a great time to think about what you really want to do next. Think about where you want to work and the type of role and title you’re looking for. You can think beyond the pandemic by determining where you want to be in the next five or ten years. If you create a goal now, you’ll be able to map out the path to achieving it!

Finding a New Jersey engineering job during a global pandemic may not be the easiest thing, but it’s not impossible. Keep up your search and don’t give up! If you use this time in a productive way, you’ll be able to get your hands on more opportunities later.

For more COVID-19 updates as it pertains to the engineering profession, keep an eye on our blog page!

New Jersey Unemployment Insurance – TDI – FLI – Earned Sick Leave Information

New Jersey Unemployment Insurance benefits are meant for people who lose their job “through no fault of their own,” such as an employer’s lack of work or a layoff due to downsizing. If you voluntarily quit your job for reasons that were not work-related, or you were terminated for misconduct, your eligibility will need to be reviewed.

Important information for claiming weekly benefits due to the coronavirus emergency can be found here.

To qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements of the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law. Those who meet the requirements may receive benefits for up to 26 weeks during a one-year period.

The $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill being considered by Congress contains a substantial increase in unemployment benefits.  The legislation offers an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance, funded by the federal government. The bill also gives an additional $600 a week for up to four months.  This would be in addition to the current jobless benefits offered by New Jersey.  The expanded benefits would last through December 2020. 

To be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits in 2020, you must have earned at least $200 per week (a base week) during 20 or more weeks in covered employment during the base year period, or you must have earned at least $10,000 in total covered employment during the base year period. For more information, click here.

To be eligible for partial benefits, you cannot work more than 80 percent of the hours normally worked in the job. For example, if you worked a 40-hour week, you won’t be able to get benefits if you work more than 32 hours. If your employer offers additional hours that you choose not to accept, your benefits may be affected.

After you first qualify for benefits, you will need to meet some additional requirements in order to keep receiving them.

New Jersey also has some of the most comprehensive Earned Sick Leave, Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance laws in the country, which cover all employees – full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal.

Governor Murphy also signed into law this week an expansion of the State’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) programs to provide more workers with access to paid leave benefits during public health emergencies.

The new law expands the definition of a “serious health condition” to allow individuals access to TDI and FLI benefits during a public health emergency if they must take time off of work because they are diagnosed with or suspected of exposure to a communicable disease or to take care of a family member diagnosed with or suspected of exposure to a communicable disease. 

The law also expands New Jersey’s earned sick leave law to permit the use of earned sick time for isolation or quarantine recommended or ordered by a provider or public health official as a result of suspected exposure to a communicable disease, or to care for a family member under recommended or ordered isolation or quarantine. 

Furthermore, federal legislation becomes effective April 2 that will provide 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave to employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees – beyond the maximum of 40 hours of paid leave to which all New Jersey employees are entitled under the state’s earned sick leave law – to employees who are stricken with COVID-19, those who have been exposed to the virus and workers whose child’s school has been closed or who cannot access child care due to COVID-19. 

Parents whose child’s school has been closed, or who cannot access child care due to COVID-19, will also be eligible starting April 2 for leave under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act.  The first 10 days of the expanded FMLA is unpaid.  The remaining 10 weeks must be paid by the employer. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act also includes extended unemployment benefits; however, New Jersey has not qualified for these benefits at this time. If New Jersey does qualify for the extended benefits, applicants may not need to do anything new. Information will be posted on our website as it becomes available.  

Lastly, the following bill also currently sits on the Govenor’s desk and awaits his action:

A-3846 – Creates “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program;” allows persons to claim for lost wages due to coronavirus disease 2019, and employers to pay wages to workers ordered under quarantine by a licensed healthcare practitioner; appropriates $20,000,000.

This bill allows individuals affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic to recoup actual lost wages due to absence from work under certain circumstances and to assist employers who pay wages to workers who are ordered under quarantine by a licensed healthcare practitioner as a result of coronavirus disease 2019.  

Specifically, the program will provide, to the extent funds are available, monetary relief to individuals for actual lost wages in an amount that is equivalent to the individual’s average weekly rate of compensation from the past calendar year, if the individuals do not have fully paid leave.  The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will use moneys in the fund, in an amount not to exceed $10,000,000, to pay the lost wages of individuals due to:         

     (1)   the individual’s absence from work due to the need to care for a family member;

     (2)   the individual’s absence from work due to the illness of the individual;

     (3)   the individual’s absence from work due to school or childcare facility being closed; and

     (4)   for such other purposes as determined by the commissioner.

No moneys shall be paid to an individual for any period or wages for which the individual receives benefits pursuant to the “unemployment compensation law,” R.S.43:21-1 et seq. 

Moneys in the fund may be supplemented or replaced, or both, by any amounts received from the federal government for the same purposes as provided in the bill.

Additionally, the department will use moneys in the fund, not to exceed $10,000,000, to assist employers who pay wages to workers who are ordered under quarantine by a licensed healthcare practitioner as a result of coronavirus disease 2019.

COVID-19: New Guidelines Issued for Construction

The Department of Community Affairs has issued new guidelines as it pertains to the construction industry’s concerns about the interruption of plan review and inspection responsibilities, State and local, due to COVID 19.
Pursuant to Executive Orders 107 and 108, at this time, local enforcing agencies cannot restrict code officials from performing their obligations under the Uniform Construction Code, N.J.A.C. 5:23.
The memo below provides information on:
Guidance for construction offices:
  • Pertaining to prioritizing necessary inspections for the health and welfare of the public.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs offers advisement on required inspections, rough inspections and final inspections.
  
Guidance for construction offices that had to close:
  • Dealing with permits that were issues prior to closure.
  • Certificate of Continued Occupancy inspections
  
Please click here for the full document from the NJ Department of Community Affairs

Click here for information on an emergency adoption of a temporary rule relaxation of the regulatory provisions concerning Minor work (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.17A), Inspections (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.18), and Certificate requirements (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.23).

Free CE Courses Just in Time for PE License Renewal

The professional engineering license renewal deadline is quickly approaching on April 30, 2020. If you’re still working on fulfilling your PDHs, have no fear! NSPE offers a select number of free CEs for members to enjoy from the comfort of their own home. Upon completion of the webinar, you must take a session quiz and score a 70 percent or higher to earn your credits. Each of these courses will earn you one professional development hour. Check out the featured free CEs below and have your NSPE membership login on hand to register for free!

Clients are from Venus, Consultants from Mars: A Guide to Effective Management of Consultants

This webinar will showcase the differences between the systems and workflows of clients and consultants so that they can better understand each other’s operating environment. This improved understanding will result in better communications and better mutual expectations.  

Learn more and register >>

How Engineers Create Added Value

This course will take a look at the value gap between engineering services and other professional services like attorneys, accountants, etc. Lecturer Mel Lester will explain the reasons why creating added value has become an issue for engineers and what you can do to creatively add value and deliver results.

Learn more and register >> 

Drones: The Sky’s the Limit

This webinar provides a high-level overview of how drones are being integrated into engineering and surveying projects. The course will also cover the workflow of a project and deliverables while highlighting the accuracies and limitations of drones. You’ll learn the best types of projects for the use of drones, how to weigh the pros and cons of using a drone on a project, and the FAA rules surrounding drone use for commercial applications

Learn more and register >>

Professional Engineer’s Role on Application of Artificial Intelligence and Technology

In a world of rapidly changing technology, professional engineers have to be Future Ready professionals and adapt to the new changes. This course describes the disruption professional engineers face and the patterns that are surfacing with the changes in technology. This course will cover some of the primary skills that professional engineers are finding most critical in their own work and the systems they are working with.

Learn more and register >> 

Winds of Changes – Electric Transmission

This course will focus on Xcel Energy – one of the fastest-growing, investor-owned utilities. Xcel Energy’s position as the industry leader in wind generation for over 12 years has impacted the way we plan and operate our transmission system. It will discuss renewable resources’ impact on the electric grid, review ways utilities are helping enable technology while keeping prices low and reliability high, look at policy changes facing the integration of renewable energy and identify best practices to engage the public on challenges with renewable energy.

Learn more and register >>

To see more of NSPE’s 15 free CEs, visit their website >>

See more upcoming CE events and paid courses with NJSPE here >>

What Does the Future Hold for the Engineering Profession?

With new technological advancements, the profession of engineering is always changing and in constant demand for engineers. Year after year, engineering is a highly recommended career path for young students. The engineering profession provides security and it’s evolving nature keeps the work interesting. As we progress forward, we start to see trends in the profession and different concentrations of engineering demanding more than others. Let’s take a look at the future of engineering by concentration: 

Software engineering 

Software developers have the knowledge and skills to create things that run our everyday items like computers, tablets, and cellphones. As technology grows, so does this concentration of engineering. Software engineers are always adapting to new trends in technology and breaking the mold by producing new standards. As if the median income ($103,560) isn’t enticing enough, the projected employment change is +24 percent. 

Solar photovoltaic installers

The future is solar. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar photovoltaic installing is the fastest-growing occupation. These installers assemble, install, and maintain private and commercial solar panel setups to provide renewable energy. As more and more countries are under pressure to carbon emissions, more governments are finding the answer in solar panels. The projected employment change for this concentration is +105 percent. 

Biomedical engineering

Biomedical engineers create new equipment, systems, and software that is used to help advance the medical industry. Modern medicine is constantly striving to improve, so there’s no shortage of jobs for biomedical engineers. Not to mention, generations continue to live longer, more active lives. New advances in biomedical engineering will be needed to keep up with the demand for new devices and operations technology. The projected employment change in this concentration is +7 percent.

Civil engineering

Civil engineering is a necessary part of our everyday lives. From the roads we drive on to the tunnels we go through, civil engineering is everywhere. The population only continues to grow, which means our infrastructure environment must adapt to the change. New structures must be built and also old structures are constantly being repaired or replaced. Projects like new housing, transportation, and more keep civil engineers constantly busy and employed. The projected employment change for this industry is +11 percent.

These few examples of future growth in the engineering profession are just the tip of the iceberg. When choosing engineering as a career path, it’s hard to go wrong. The industry is constantly changing and growing. Luckily, engineers that are NJSPE members have the resources at their fingertips to continue education and stay ahead of the curve within the industry. 

NJSPE offers a variety of memberships for licensed engineers, enterprises, students, and engineers-in-training. Learn more about NJSPE and find a membership that fits your needs here.

Engineering Week 2020: February 16-22

Started 68 years ago by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Engineering Week is a national effort to raise awareness about the importance of STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – education by celebrating the work of engineers across the nation. The goal of Engineering Week 2020 is to celebrate how engineers make a difference, increase public dialogue about the importance and need for engineers, and illustrate engineering in a way that speaks to kids, educators, and parents.

Together, by increasing the conversation about engineering, we can increase the number of engineers in our workforce, particularly for women and minorities, for years to come. Learn more about engineering week 2020, engineering, and STEM below.

A State Policymaker’s STEM Playbook

This Promising Practices in Education report highlights the Utah STEM Action Center as a case study of legislation that includes three essential elements of a successful STEM program. 

 

Cool Content & Activities

With over 150 simple, turnkey engineering activities, there’s sure to be one that fits your needs. Check out Coding without Computers, Designing a Tape Dispenser, or Avery Architect.

 

National Institute for STEM Education

The National Institute for STEM Education (NISE) certifies teachers, campuses, and districts in STEM teaching. Using a competency-based, academic coach-led online learning platform, educators produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates proficiency across 15 STEM teacher actions.

 

New Jersey STEM Vital Signs

Business leaders in New Jersey cannot find the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent they need to stay competitive. Students’ lagging performance in K–12 is a critical reason why.

 

JerseySTEM

JerseySTEM is a network of parents, professionals, students and educators whose goal is to promote excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (“STEM”) education.

 

STEM Connector

STEMconnector®, a Diversified Search company, is a consortium of companies, nonprofit associations and professional societies, STEM-related research & policy organizations, government entities, universities and academic institutions concerned with STEM education and the future of human capital in the United States.

 

STEMedia

STEMedia is a digital media company that provides creative and inspirational content for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM / STEAM) Community. We have a passionate audience of over 10,000 students and young professionals, made up of mostly minorities, women and the “artistic-types” in the technical arena.

 

STEM Education Coalition

The STEM Education Coalition works aggressively to raise awareness in Congress, the Administration, and other organizations about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st century.

 

STEM Education Data

You can discover the answers to important questions on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers using the information from the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators report.

 

STEMworks

STEMworks is a searchable online honor roll of high-quality STEM education programs. STEMworks helps companies, states, and individuals make smart investments in their communities by evaluating and cataloging programs that meet rigorous and results-driven design principles.

 

African Americans and Hispanics Lack Pathways to Engineering

An excellent education that leads to good jobs offers a reliable pathway to economic security, yet the first step on that pathway remains inaccessible to far too many Americans, especially Americans of color. Nowhere is this inequity more apparent than in engineering.

 

American Society of Civil Engineers

The American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries. Founded in 1852, ASCE is the nation’s oldest engineering society.

 

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

ASME is a not-for-profit membership organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing, career enrichment, and skills development across all engineering disciplines, toward a goal of helping the global engineering community develop solutions to benefit lives and livelihoods.

 

National Academy of Engineering

The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.

 

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

Through partnerships with like-minded entities, NACME serves as a catalyst to increase the proportion of African American, American Indian, and Latino young women and men in STEM careers. 

 

National Society of Black Engineers

NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”

 

National Society of Professional Engineers

The only organization dedicated to the interests of PEs across disciplines, NSPE recognizes your professional goals and your dedication. Join NSPE to join a growing network of like-minded professionals who share your commitment, integrity, pride, and your desire to be held to a higher standard.

 

New Jersey Engineering Schools

An education program is offered through education departments at community colleges to graduate schools. Most engineering programs are provided as concentrations or entire disciplines within a particular engineering field, such as electrical engineering or industrial engineering. 

 

New Jersey Professional Engineers in Construction

The New Jersey Professional Engineers in Construction (NJPEC) is a nonprofit organization that supports the objectives of the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers, advances public welfare, and promotes the professional, social and economic interests of our engineer members.

 

School of PE

School of PE has been in the field of educational services since 2004. School of PE offers FE, PE, and SE exam review courses and has trained individuals and employees from more than 6,000 businesses, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, and federal and state agencies.

 

Society of Women Engineers

For more than six decades, SWE has given women engineers a unique place and voice within the engineering industry. Our organization is centered around a passion for our members’ success and continues to evolve with the challenges and opportunities reflected in today’s exciting engineering and technology specialties. 

 

STEMtistics – Engineering

These graphics were produced by Change the Equation prior to Vital Signs’ transition to Education Commission of the States.

 

TryEngineering

Learn how to become an engineer, where to go to college, and how to incorporate engineering into your lesson plans.

 

How Professional Engineers can Give Back to Their Communities

As professional engineers, our work impacts our society in very direct ways. The decisions we make impact the very infrastructure of thousands of people’s everyday life, and that is just through our day job. There are less obvious but equally important ways that we can, and should, be giving back to our communities. 

The Engineers of Tomorrow

The NSPE Education foundation works with a number of organizations to help provide education and opportunities to students interested in pursuing engineering. These organizations include the MathCounts Foundation, DiscoverE , Real-World Career Experience Exploring® and Project Lead the Way. These programs are all great way for students to learn more about STEM and engineering. The NSPE Education Foundations also offers scholarships to students studying engineering. By supporting them financially, you are supporting the future of professional engineering by making sure kids have exposure to engineering as well as opportunities to pursue it. If you are interested in supporting their work, you can contact your local chapter or one of the organizations the NSPE Education Foundation works with directly. 

Outside Your Comfort Zone

Engineers Without Borders is an organization that goes to communities in need from around the world and help to meet their basic needs and improve their quality of life. This organization offers a number of different volunteering options, including boots on the ground work as well as consultations on projects and pro bono engineering services to communities that cannot afford to hire engineers.They also offer education to their members and hands on experience to students.They offer a great opportunity to help on a global scale while growing your own skill set. 

Become a Mentor

One of the best ways you can give back to the engineering community is through mentoring. You can reach out to local schools, universities or even to STEM competitions in your area to find out if there are projects or teams you could spend time with and advise. You could also contact local after-school programs to arrange to come in and speak to the students about what it means to be an engineer. By donating your time in this way, you can provide practical examples to students of what engineers can do as well as help to guide their careers. 

These are just some examples of how professional engineers can give back to their communities. If you are interested in more opportunities, consider becoming a member of NJSPE. By becoming a member, you help to support the future of professional engineering as well as have the opportunity to participate in one of the NSPE partner programs. Join today!

Top Five Places to Travel for Engineering Marvels

Summer vacation season is getting closer. Some New Jersey engineers enjoy beaches and resorts for an awesome vacation, but others enjoy the sight-seeing and adventures of a new place. Whatever your preference is we’re sure you’ll find these five engineering structures worth the visit!

Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge

Danyang Kunshan Grand Bridge

Photo from Travel Triangle

This is the world’s longest bridge at 102.4 miles long and can be found connecting the cities of Shanghai and Nanjing in China. This bridge is unique because it is built in a viaduct design. If you’re staying in Shanghai, there are a number of other amazing destinations you won’t want to miss, like the Jin Mao Tower and Skywalk and Shanghai’s Promenade: The Bund.

Palm Islands

Palm Island Resport

The Palm Islands are three man-made islands on the coast of Dubai. These islands were created with commercialization in mind. The resort island stands out as an engineering marvel because it was created from the sea floor up. Three billion cubic feet of sand was dredged up from the bottom of the ocean and with concrete supports. The sand was used to shape the palm tree structure and support the hotel.

St. Basil’s Cathedral

Located in Moscow, Russia, St. Basil’s Cathedral is one of Moscow’s most famous structures. This cathedral to Russians is what the Eiffel Tower is to the French. It was constructed from 1555 to 1561, and legend has it that Ivan the Terrible blinded the architect to prevent him from building another structure as beautiful as the cathedral.  

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia Mars

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey has made it’s transformation over the years from a church to a mosque to a museum. The structure primarily carries characteristics of two different cultures – Byzantium and Ottoman Empires. Throughout history, Hagia Sophia has been an important site of worship for both Christians and Muslims, and it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site in Istanbul.

Dancing House

Dancing House

The Dancing House, also known as Fred and Ginger, in Prague, Czech Republic was constructed from 1992 to 1996. The structure features two towers, a glass and a stone tower. The stone is meant to symbolize Fred Astaire and the glass tower, Ginger Rogers. The nontraditional design was controversial at the time because it did not blend in with the Baroque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau buildings that Prague is famous for. Exploring Prague, you’re sure to find tons of amazing structures.

Wherever you decide to go, sight-seeing will be aplenty! New Jersey engineers have the world at their fingertips. As you continue to work in the field of engineering, getting inspiration from other cultures and states can help you grow. Don’t let these amazing opportunities pass you by.

Professional Engineers & Autonomous Vehicles

An autonomous vehicle is a mode of transportation that can detect the environment around it and make decisions without any human interaction. Essentially, a computer is driving around the passengers. While this new technology makes some people excited, it makes others feel uneasy. The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) is working hard to reverse that feeling.

Whether you are for or against the implementation of driverless cars, they are closer to occupying our roads than they’ve ever been. These vehicles decrease the probability of human error on the road but pose safety concerns. Potential hacker threats, undetected bicyclists or animals, and system glitches have caused the public to feel unsure about the future of the road.

The NSPE is influencing regulations at both the state and federal levels. They are looking to make a difference with requirements for approved vehicles to get out on the road. The goal is to convince federal and state policymakers that a licensed professional engineer is necessary, even critical, to the regulating process. If the NSPE can convince these government bodies to make an engineer inspection a lawful requirement, the process will become drastically more comprehensive and complete. The autonomous vehicles that are eventually sold to the public will pose significantly lower risks. Both the NSPE and New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers refuse to play around with safety and public health.

Think about this: would you feel safer in your new, driverless car if it had the stamp of approval from a licensed professional engineer with decades of experience? This seems like a no-brainer, which is why we continue to oppose manufacturers self-approving their vehicles.

We will state our case to policymakers until a licensed engineer is an unmistakable part of the approval process for autonomous vehicles. Safety is too important to have it any other way. Learn more about the work of professional engineers on njspe.org.

The Importance of STEM Education in New Jersey

STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – has been a national topic of discussion since former President Barack Obama made it a priority during the beginning of his administration. Throughout the years, engineers, scientists, and other innovators across the country have helped secure our nation’s spot as a leader and trailblazer for technology and discovery, but is that position in jeopardy?

To keep the United States as a world leader in science, medicine and engineering, we need to work together to make STEM-related fields available and feasible for all races and genders. Beginning with New Jersey, we can create a movement where our schools provide equal opportunities for all students to get involved and enhance their skills in STEM areas of study.

Stability and Profitability

Over the next 10 years, STEM jobs are projected to grow nine percent in New Jersey – nearly double the growth expected for all other careers. Engineering alone is expected to have more than 500,000 new jobs available in the United States. Computer and IT job growth will also be exponentially higher. With such growth expected, it should come as no surprise that New Jersey’s STEM unemployment rate is only 3.2 percent compared with non-STEM unemployment at 5.7 percent, making it a more stable career option than any other field.

In addition to job stability, STEM careers offer a higher salary right out of college with raises and bonuses only increasing that salary over time. On average, New Jersey workers in STEM careers make a median wage of $44 an hour, which is double the median wage of all other careers in the state. This trend isn’t only native to New Jersey – nationally, STEM workers earned 29 percent more. Couple the high wage with the number of job vacancies and it paints a clear picture of the stability and security of STEM occupations, and with the expected projections, demand for STEM jobs in New Jersey will remain high for at least a decade.

Women and Minorities Gap

While there have been small strides to increase diversity in the STEM workforce, women and minorities are still severely underrepresented. Even in New Jersey, a state with a predominantly female and minority population, there are huge disparities. Only 20 percent of African American children in fourth and eighth grade are at or above proficient in math and only 14 percent are at or above proficient in science. Hispanic children are slightly higher, with 26 percent and 18.5 percent at or above proficient in math and science, respectively. With such undereducation in grade schools, the minority children in our state are not receiving the same opportunities to pursue STEM-related degrees as the Asian and white male populations.

Fast forward to college-age individuals and only 12 percent of minorities in New Jersey received engineering degrees or certificates in 2015. For women, there were only 665 computer science and 1,079 engineering degrees or certificates awarded. White men, however, received more than three times as many. By increasing the number of girls who get involved in math and science courses, we can close both the wage and gender gap in the STEM workforce.

Let’s Start the Change

Even though we have made strides as both a country and a state to increase awareness surrounding STEM education, we are still not where we need to be. There is not only a shortage in the number of students enrolled in high-level STEM classes and degrees but also a shortage in the teachers available to teach these classes. In New Jersey, educators, STEM workers and legislators alike need to work together to make STEM education a priority. Let’s fight the stigma that engineering, computer science and manufacturing are “old boys’ clubs. We need to ensure the girls and minorities in our schools understand that STEM courses and fields are welcoming of everyone – whether they want to have a STEM career or teach the next generation of STEM students.

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