A startling new report was released this week from CBS Money Watch, citing that a mere 26% of STEM-interested students will earn a degree in that field. While teenage interest in STEM-based careers is rising, the report cites that many students don’t posses strong backgrounds in science and math before heading to college.

 

So what’s the solution to support Delaware’s STEM-interested students? Delaware is on track to change these statistics by implementing programs that foster career exploration and readiness, starting at Grade 7.

 

SPARC, a career-readiness program that allows students to explore careers and pathways between Grades 7-12, is providing a suite of resources for young Delawareans.

 

SPARC’s online portal allows students and Career Coaches to connect and ask questions about jobs, work fields, and interests in a safe, monitored environment. Work-based learning activities are offered, like job shadows, guest speakers, company tours and paid internships.

 

STEM-based careers make up the majority of interest for SPARC students, with nearly 200 Career Coaches answering their questions.

 

SPARC is considered the “on ramp” for Career Pathways, another Delaware initiative that is getting students on their own career readiness path. Delaware Pathways, a career-readiness program that allows students to begin career “tracts” in high school, is expanding.

 

In the 2015-2016 school year, Delaware added four new tracts for a total of eight Career Pathways in place, seven of which are in STEM fields. Bio-medical science, computer science, engineering, allied health, finance, manufacturing, and Cisco networking tracts are being offered to prepare students for post-secondary education success. Over 2,200 students are currently enrolled in Delaware Pathways tracts.

 

These pathways were put into place after Gov. Jack Markell made a promise to Delawareans- by 2025, 65% of Delaware’s workforce will earn a college degree or professional certificate and every student will graduate high school prepared for continuing education and a career.

 

SPARC and Delaware Pathways are sparking interest and meeting the needs of Delaware students. Among high school students hoping to pursue a STEM-based career, their interests lie as follows:

  • 42% Medical and health fields
  • 25% Engineering and technology
  • 22% Science
  • 11% Computer Science and Math

 

To find out more information about SPARC, visit the SPARC homepage, Facebook or Twitter pages. For more information on Delaware Pathways, visit the Department of Education website.