With the shift from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy, the call for workers schooled in the sciences, technology, engineering and math is expanding. At the same time, the region also needs more jobs in the sciences to stimulate greater pursuit of those careers.
“Every job out there incorporates science into it,” says Creapeau, who has an associate’s degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College. “Science isn’t just your chemistry, physics, classes like that. It’s analytical skills. It’s being able to figure something out with the variables you’re given. You know, that’s present in every job.”
It’s an area of social justice in our school district,” says Lauren Baker, coordinator of career and technical education at Milwaukee Public Schools. Too few Milwaukee students are exposed to scientists and engineers and need to discover the opportunities in those fields, Baker says. “Our kids can do the kinds of jobs they see around them, but it won’t get them out of poverty,” Baker says. “STEM occupations get kids out of poverty.”
Using broad measures of occupational employment, the four-county Milwaukee area is on par with the national average for jobs in the sciences, math and engineering, especially when health care is included. But Milwaukee lags behind rates in some other nearby cities, including Minneapolis, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Omaha, Neb., and Madison.
“My gut reaction is we’re not doing all that well. Madison is doing much better,” says Jill Zoromski, managing director for the Milwaukee-based employment recruiting wing of Capital H Group.