Connections: The Newsletter of the National Career Pathways Network

Volume 32, No. 1
Focus on Skills

Making the Case for a Cross-Disciplinary STEM Core

Hope Cotner, President and CEO, CORD; Co-PI, Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work

Hope CotnerThe nature of work is evolving right before our eyes. Technology advancements are transforming existing industries and creating new ones at an unprecedented pace. The World Economic Forum predicts significant disruption in the jobs landscape over the next four years. As many as 85 million current job roles may be displaced while more than 97 million new roles could emerge. Many of those roles will be enhanced by technologies that can collaborate with humans to enrich lives and workplaces in what the National Science Foundation (NSF) describes as the “future of work at the human-technology frontier.” Our challenge as educators is ensuring future technicians acquire the expanding skill sets necessary for success in a rapidly changing environment.

Through the NSF-ATE supported initiative Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work, staff at the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) have led a series of research activities designed to identify the knowledge and skills that will be essential for future STEM technicians. This work has resulted in the Framework for a Cross-Disciplinary STEM Core, a set of recommendations for technician education that incorporate knowledge and skills from Advanced Digital Literacy, Data Knowledge and Analysis, and Business Knowledge and Processes into technician preparation programs. These core content areas are essential to future success in STEM fields because they transcend narrow job specialization and enable technicians to adapt to a complex employment environment. Topics within these areas have been prioritized by educators and industry leaders.

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The Framework offers practical recommendations for implementation, with regional customization, by any community college technical program. Steps toward adoption of the Framework include:

  • Empowering technician educators to integrate multiple disciplines into existing programs and develop new programs that support emerging disciplines and occupations.
  • Convening stakeholders across sectors to collaborate with educators on talent development approaches that make sense locally yet prepare learners for the global economy.
  • Discussing with employers the effects of automation and artificial intelligence on their workforce and how you can support their reskilling efforts.

Download the Framework today and discover ways you can advocate for adoption of the Cross-Disciplinary STEM Core in your community.

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