Event hosted by MCC-Longview and sponsored by Lee’s Summit R-7 offers alternate, lucrative perspective on traditional education path
By Krista Klaus
You don’t necessarily need a four-year degree to land a six-figure job. That’s the message carried by Dr. Cindy Moss, senior director of global STEM initiatives for Discovery Education and shared with LSEDC leaders at its February Advisory Luncheon.
Moss, a lifelong educator, economic developer and entrepreneur, is working to change the way communities and businesses view the STEM subjects of science, technology, math and engineering.
“For us, STEM is a culture. In most schools, when we ask people if they are doing STEM, they say they have a robotics club. STEM is not a club,” Moss said. “STEM is not something we do once a year and it’s not something that happens in a teacher’s classroom. It needs to be a culture.”
Moss encouraged the group of local business leaders to support the idea that all kids should be offered STEM skill development because those skills create problem-solvers. “We want it to be inclusive– kids PreK-12, all teachers—so we say it is ALL students and teachers energizing minds because every student needs these skills,” Moss said.
Kids with STEM skills can adapt more quickly to the changing job market and be in a position to enjoy a lucrative, specialized career after two years of post-secondary school, with little to no debt. In short, STEM helps communities simultaneously close the achievement gap and the wage gap.
Some high-paying jobs* that require only technical or trade training, according to Moss:
-Mechatronics technician starting at $75,000 a year -Surgical technologist starting between $55,000 and $90,000 a year
-Specialized car mechanic (NASCAR) or technician starting at $70,000 a year
-Certified ICAR technician starting at $55,000 a year
-Extracorporeal technologist starting at $150,000 a year
*Salary information based on Charlotte, North Carolina market
Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President and CEO Rick McDowell encouraged business leaders to continue to pay attention to the STEM conversation. “We have a great educational ecosystem here. We should expand and continue to build bridges between the business community and the educational system,” McDowell said.
During the Q&A portion of the event, Emily Rhoden, educational outreach and recruitment specialist for Burns & McDonnell, agreed that the talent pipeline is in need of STEM students. “There are plenty of companies in Kansas City that STEM educated students can take advantage of,” Rhoden said.
Calling herself a STEMinist, Moss emphasized the importance of motivating girls to become STEM proficient.
“In the U.S. right now, women make up about 50 percent of the workforce, which is totally expected,” she said. “In STEM, it’s less than 20 percent, and when you get into IT, it’s like 6 or 7 percent.”