Evidence suggests the following benchmarks are important markers of future success along the STEM continuum. Due to greater availability of research and assessment in mathematics, more evidence was found for benchmarks in this area than in science. These benchmarks informed the STEM in Minnesota cradle-to-career project committee in selecting key measures.

Employment in a STEM occupation

Many of the occupations projected to grow the fastest require significant scientific or mathematical training (1). According to a 2010 report by Georgetown University forecasting jobs and education requirements through 2018, STEM occupations accounted for about 7.3 million jobs in 2008 (5% of U.S. jobs) and were projected to increase to 8.6 million (5.3%) by 2018. Included in this definition of STEM occupations were computer and mathematical sciences, architects and technicians, engineers and technicians, life and physical sciences, and social sciences occupations. The report also noted that education occupations and STEM occupations have the highest concentration of jobs requiring postsecondary education. In the words of the report, STEM and other fast-growing occupations "tap into the new knowledge economy and are quickly creating new jobs to service it" (2, p. 22).

Regardless of their occupation, those with science and engineering degrees tend to earn more than employees with comparable degrees in other fields. Unemployment for workers in science and engineering occupations also tends to be lower than for individuals with a college degree overall (3). Increasing the number of individuals prepared for employment in STEM fields requires increasing the number who complete STEM degree and certificate programs (4).

Technical jobs

According to a June 2013 report from the Brookings Institution, in addition to professional STEM occupations, many blue collar or technical jobs require substantial STEM knowledge. These workers “are critical to the implementation of new ideas, and advise researchers on feasibility of design options, cost estimates, and other practical aspects of technological development” (5, p.3).

Brookings estimated that in 2011, 56 percent of STEM jobs in the Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington metropolitan area required a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 44 percent required an associate degree or less. (5)

Development of talent

A March 2013 report from the Minnesota State Demographic Center explores two overlapping types of talent important to Minnesota’s economic vitality: degreed talent and creative talent. Creative talent includes entrepreneurs, individuals employed in highly creative occupations, and workers in STEM fields. An estimated 45 percent of Minnesota’s creative talent was employed in a STEM occupation in 2007-10. Given changing demographics, our economic strength requires ensuring that all groups have equitable opportunities to develop talent and apply talent in the labor force (6).

“The economy in Minnesota and around the world is rapidly shifting. ‘Talent’ – higher-order skills and education – is increasingly the key that allows workers to unlock job prospects, higher earnings, greater net worth and a host of affiliated benefits” (6, p. 4).


1. Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St. Rose, A. (2010). Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Retrieved from AAUW website: http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/Why-So-Few-Women-in-Science-Technology-Engineering-and-Mathematics.pdf

2. Carnevale, A., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2010). Help wanted: Projections of jobs and education requirements through 2018. Retrieved from Center on Education and the Workforce website: http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/FullReport.pdf

3. National Science Board. (2012). Science and engineering indicators 2012 (NSB 12-01). Retrieved from National Science Foundation website: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/pdf/seind12.pdf

4. Thomasian, J. (2011). Building a science, technology, engineering, and math education agenda: An update of state actions. Retrieved from National Governors Association website: http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/1112STEMGUIDE.PDF

5. Rothwell, J. (2013). The Hidden STEM economy. Retrieved from Brookings website: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/reports/2013/06/10%20stem%20economy%20rothwell/

6. Minnesota State Demographic Center. (2013). The time for talent. Retrieved from http://www.demography.state.mn.us/documents/Talent_Full_Report_FINAL_March2013r.pdf