It’s no secret that numerous industries across the country stand upon a rapidly evolving foundation of technology, which has become vital for growth and progress.

            This certainly includes the pharmaceutical industry, which stands on the precipice of an impending dilemma. A $333 billion dollar business that employs an average of 854,000 people, major pharmaceutical is now predicting a huge shortage of skilled employees to occur over the next eight years. This deficit is blamed in large part on a lack of high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in K-12 schools throughout the United States.

            Recently, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), released a series of reports which specify the need to increase focus on the education of science, technology, engineering, and math in order to close a skills gap that will result in approximately two million out of 3.4 million industry jobs – around 60 percent – going unfilled by the year 2025.

            The situation with STEM education’s current climate is certainly dire. Among the 65 countries and regions that are tested, American ninth-graders rank 36th in math literacy and 28th in science. While researchers caution against drawing too many conclusions from international standardized tests, the report indicates that American college students are also less likely to pursue a degree in science or engineering compared to students from other countries.

            All’s not without hope in regards to American STEM education: The majority of states have successfully implemented STEM-related workforce and educational programs and initiatives which include outreach to K-12 schools, universities and workplaces. PhRMA’s report finds that STEM jobs pay more than the average occupation, and they’re increasing at a growth rate that’s more than double other occupations.

            “The American biopharmaceutical industry is the global leader in research and development and has delivered many of the treatments and cures that have saved millions of lives around the world,” PhRMA Vice President of Policy and Research, Anne Pritchett, said in a statement. “Yet, these advances and breakthroughs are only possible through continued support of public policies that promote a highly skilled, diverse American workforce.”

            In order to ensure the continued growth and progress of industries across the country, it’s clear that now, more than ever, is the time to strengthen our national presence in the fields of math and science.