4 STEM trends already defining 2020 for students

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2020—the mark of a new decade has a lot of intrinsic power, doesn’t it? 

It’s almost impossible to resist taking stock of how much 10 years have changed the world. Simultaneously - and more intriguing still - we want to know what the next 10 have in store.   

If the past decade is any indication, it’s easy to identify one key player in both where we’ve been and where we’re going: all things STEM

That’s heavy on the “T”. 

Think about it. Innovations in science, engineering, and mathematics, - especially in their applications to solving 21st century problems - are undeniable. 

But the role of technology? It’s integrated into practically all aspects of daily life. Our world is faster and more connected than ever. Tech has revolutionized how we work, learn, and create, not to mention the way we communicate, organize our lives, and ultimately, make our mark. 

No one understands this better than young people. 

More than ever, technology is an indelible component of social life, school, and ever-evolving industries around the world. More than ever, the benefits of tech will shape where and how this generation lives and the tools with which they will define the future. 

The best part? There has literally never been a better time to explore it at a young age. The possibilities are as exciting as they are boundless. 

Naturally, we already have our eye on trends and indicators that tell us 2020 is the decade of STEM. Here are just a few on the radar: 

1. Young people mobilize, monetize, and make moves

If the iconic image of Greta Thunberg as 2019’s TIME person of the year tells us anything, it’s that young people are finding their voices, building communities, and igniting movements through STEM. 

Thunberg’s profile notes, “She is not a scientist or a politician. She has no access to traditional levers of influence: she’s not a billionaire or a princess, a pop star or even an adult. She is an ordinary teenage girl who, in summoning the courage to speak truth to power, became the icon of a generation.”

Her passion for science and preserving our planet was the spark. There’s no question that technology and social media fueled the fire that became a global movement.

And her story is just the beginning.

Never in history has there been a wider or more instantaneous network for kids and teens to connect. Their passions and perspectives resonate in milliseconds all over the world. 

Forbes recently took notice—of the millions being made on YouTube, many of the top earners with the widest audiences are under the age of 17. Plus, they’re expanding beyond their channels to clothing, toy, and makeup lines. Online communities for kids are clearly on the rise, and only show signs of continuing to grow. 

2. No longer “extra,” technology is essential in schools and learning

Gone are the days when technology was simply a feature of the classroom. In 2020, tech is also a skillset and an essential academic tool. Every day, digital literacy,  citizenship, and savvy are factoring more and more significantly in how teachers teach and what students learn

From newschools.org via forbes.com

The US still has a long way to go in terms of meeting teacher demand, diverse representation, and nationwide access to technology, and there are multi-million dollar federal initiatives already at work to fill this need.

The Department of Education recently invested $540 million in STEM education, $100 million of which is specifically dedicated to computer science. Technology has hit a growth spurt in schools and promises to equal core competencies in math and literacy as keys to success in the 21st century. 

3. The “T” in STEM reigns as the top career path 

Remember when we mentioned the “T” in STEM? This is why! Having passed the 2017-2018 benchmark of many statistics and projections about changes to the workplace, 2020 promises a shift in the distribution of growth towards computer science. Not only does computer science top the list of the best jobs in the STEM field according to U.S. News & World Report, but it also claims the #1 spot in their comprehensive list of best jobs in the US. 

While the STEM field itself continues to encompass a wide range of great jobs, technology is a clear stand-out. 

Any list of STEM stats you come across does the talking. For instance, the University of Washington recently completed a study that predicted 73% of STEM industry growth will be in computer-based professions by 2024. 

You also have a forecasted 546,200 jobs will be added in computer science by 2028 as median industry salaries continue to rise. What’s the bottom line? The world seems to love computer science just as much as we do, and it is skyrocketing in its role in the workforce. 

4. America’s best places to live are wired in tech industry

Not only is technology changing how we live, it also seems to impact where we live.

Of the top quality of life cities in the US, 50% also rank highly in the top cities booming in tech. Coincidence? We think not.

This effect can be felt worldwide as well. Companies like Google and Facebook are making major moves in countries like Ireland as still more countries’ independent industries boom, creating great opportunities to study and work abroad. The good news for young people: the best places to study, intern, and start careers already overlap with the nation’s (and the world’s!) top tech communities. 

Innovation and technology defined the 2010’s and they’re well on their way to doing the same today. We at iD Tech can’t wait to see how 2020 unfolds, and, as ever, how young people will harness the power of technology. 

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.