According to the Colorado Department of Labor, at least 20% of all jobs in the state are in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. These occupations include: engineers, software developers, accountants, environmental scientists and healthcare professionals, to name a few. And, while STEM fields make up only 20% of all jobs, 62% of job openings are in STEM careers. In other words, the demand for qualified STEM workers is quickly outpacing supply. In response, JA recently launched the JA STEM Job Shadow program.
“The program gives students a chance to visit STEM companies, meet working professionals and see firsthand the exciting and meaningful work that a career in STEM can offer,” said Jill Hrnicek, JA manager of volunteer engagement. “Kids gain a better understanding of the skills needed to be successful in the workplace.”
During the job shadow experience, groups of 20 to 40 high school students spend a half-day at a company’s workplace interacting with employees in STEM jobs. They go on a tour of the workplace and participate in small group discussions.
“Small groups of students work with each employee volunteer, so they really get a chance to ask questions and delve into the different careers of the professionals they meet,” said Hrnicek.
Providing job shadow experiences isn’t new to JA; the organization has partnered with local companies to bring students into the workplace for several years. What is new is the laser focus on STEM careers and the need for STEM-related companies in industries such as energy, engineering and health care to open their doors to hosting students and to helping build the talent pipeline of the future.
“Hosting a job shadow day often benefits employees just as much as it benefits students,” said Hrnicek. “A JA job shadow survey conducted by AT&T and JA USA found that: 93% of volunteers felt that their experience contributed to their professional growth; 99% of volunteers felt good about themselves and their company; and 97% of volunteers felt they made a difference in the lives of young people.
If your organization is interested in hosting a group of students for a JA STEM Job Shadow Day, please contact Jill Hrnicek at JHnricek@JAColorado.org or at 303-260-6291.