A nation’s future is dependent on the education of its workforce. Unfortunately, students in the United States are falling behind the rest of the world; scores on assessment tests that focus on such key business areas as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are rapidly declining across the country, plummeting the U.S. to #20 in the world. This number demonstrates that America isn’t producing enough graduates to sustain job growth in these professional industries, creating career opportunities for the global workforce, workers with more job training, expertise and hands-on skills.

Since STEM touches almost every profession in the workforce on a daily basis, a need for workers with these skills is emerging across the country. To be successful both here and overseas, the U.S. must invest in its workforce and turn its attention to providing its students with STEM training throughout their academic career.

While the United States is falling behind in STEM areas, we are also faced with being left behind in the area of Sustainability. Over the past decade, we have watched an explosion of “green” in sustainability industries, green jobs, green training, green products, green marketing and green legislation. We need to be aware of this growth, what sustainability really is and also be able to know the difference between what is real and what is “green washing.”

In response, Central Piedmont Community College has merged divisions to create STEM, a group with the right resources and passion to begin to address these concerns. The STEM team will focus on STEM-related initiatives while infusing sustainability into the curriculum. This will allow the College to better prepare and retain more students in the many classes under the STEM umbrella.