Considered together, recent NASA and U.S. aerospace company hiring statistics indicate that there is a combined demand for thousands of new S&E workers each year in the United States, a growing proportion of whom are aged 35 or less. These new hires will most likely need at least a bachelor’s degree, and many will require either a master’s or doctoral degree.
While mechanisms such as the PISA test reveal a cross-national focus on primary and secondary STEM competency, a more direct measure of the potential international space workforce is offered through a comparative analysis of STEM university graduates by country.
Nations around the world recognize the potential of space activity to create high-paying jobs, enable new industries and technologies, increase national competitiveness, and add value to the economy. Building for a future that envisions their increasing participation in space, countries are responding with notable human capital investments that combine traditional models of space education with emerging new approaches.
An examination of PISA test scores among 14 countries active in space offers a more focused view of relative math and science literacy, which has implications for the numbers of STEM graduates each country produces and in turn the supply of STEM-skilled workers available for space-related professions. Exhibit 4bb shows national PISA test scores from 2009 for major space countries in mathematics and science.
As nations around the world increase investment in both space activity and space human capital infrastructure, traditional models of space education and workforce development are increasingly being supplemented by newer approaches. These approaches emphasize the potential for international space education cooperation and focus on engaging student interest in space at an early age.
Women constituted a majority of students who received post-secondary degrees. In 2006, some 58% of all bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women, up from 51% in 1986. In degree fields critical to the space industry, however, women are still woefully underrepresented.
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New manpower, especially the recruitment of talented college graduates with degrees in such fields as astronomy; aeronautical and astronautical engineering; atmospheric, Earth, and space sciences; and mathematics, will be key to ensuring the health and vitality of the country’s space industry. What follows is an overview of a few major trends in postsecondary science and engineering education.
To gauge how U.S. elementary and middle school students compare with other students in math and science, the results of a test administered by the U.S. Department of Education, known as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) provide a standardized global measure. The most recent test was administered in 2007.
Starting at the 4th grade level, only 39% of students tested proficient or higher in mathematics in 2007, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. . .