Afterschool Alliance (2010). Afterschool: Middle School and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). MetLife Foundation Afterschool Alert. Issue Brief No. 44. Afterschool Alliance,
The 21st Century's information economy has been creating more jobs that require not only a college education but also a fair amount of expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math--collectively known as STEM. The last several decades have seen the industrial- and manufacturing-based economy shift to a service economy fueled by information, knowledge and innovation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1996 and 2006, the United States lost three million manufacturing jobs. In that same timeframe, 17 million service sector jobs were created, specifically in the areas of health care, education, environment, security and energy. From 2008-2018, many of the fastest-growing jobs in the service sector are and will be STEM-related, high-end occupations that include doctors, nurses, health technicians and engineers. Industries projected to have the most employment growth are in scientific, technical and management consulting; computer systems design; and employment services. In order to help prepare youth for these careers, individuals need to think about STEM learning opportunities beyond the traditional school day. Afterschool programs are currently serving more than 1.3 million middle school students, with many programs providing engaging STEM content. Combining STEM learning with afterschool programming offers middle school students a fun, challenging, hands-on introduction to the skills they will need in high school, college and the workplace. This issue brief highlights afterschool programs that incorporate STEM activities, giving middle school students time to develop an interest in STEM and inspiring them to learn.