Students often wonder when they're going to use their school subjects in real life. Some say they're not going to enter math-related fields and therefore don't need to pay attention to math studies. Others want to learn a specific type of math for their careers and ignore everything else.
Math is a universal tool that is used across all job functions in the global market, from entry-level employees taking inventory to CEOs dealing with billion-dollar budgets. Everyone in today's workforce uses math. Here are just a few reasons why this subject is important no matter your job title.
STEM Jobs Are Some of the Fastest Growing in America
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are some of the fastest growing jobs in America right now. In fact, 7 out of 10 of this year's top jobs are in STEM fields.
Many STEM jobs are created because of technology. As smartphone and computer usage grows, the need for tools, apps, and digital infrastructure increases. Many of the top 10 STEM jobs of the future didn't even exist a decade ago.
STEM jobs aren't going away. Many experts believe the top jobs of today will continue to grow by 20 percent between 2012 and 2022. Students who are in high school now will enter a more competitive labor pool that will need science and math skills by the time they graduate from college or enter the workforce directly after high school.
Math-Heavy Jobs Create Non-Math Jobs
As the technology workforce grows, so does the need for non-mathematical employees. For example, administrative staff, operations managers, legal experts, and marketing teams work together to sell math and technology-related products. However, even though these job titles aren't directly related to math, they do require employees to have basic math skills. Those who haven't learned these skills as students will struggle in their careers.
Almost All Jobs Use Math in Some Form
Even if your child doesn't enter an accounting or engineering field, he or she is likely to use math in some form. Each department within a company is increasingly required to balance its own budget and determine the best way to spend its funds. For example, a marketing department within a company would determine if it should invest in TV advertising or digital promotions. Not only would the marketing team have to balance a budget, it would also have to calculate profits and overall return.
Even if your child works for him or herself within a company, math will be needed to keep the business going. A baker uses math to determine what ingredients should be bought and at what price each pastry should be sold. That baker must also calculate rent, marketing budget, and other expenses from the profits. Beyond the actual baking (which requires math on its own), the baker uses math in all areas of operations. Almost all entrepreneurs, regardless of their field, need a basic math background.
Furthermore, every student applying for college, whether an English major or a Biology major, will need strong math skills to do well on college entrance exams (SATs and ACTs).
More Companies Are Giving Math Exams
As the global job market becomes increasingly competitive, companies are using tests to weed out underperforming candidates. For example, an employer might give a math and writing test to 100 applicants to make sure their skills meet company expectations. If only 50 applicants pass the tests, then the HR department only has to look at those 50 resumes. Even if a candidate is called in, they may be given additional testing before they are offered the position.
Future workers will need as many skills as possible in their arsenal if they want to succeed in their careers. Having a solid foundation in math, and maintaining their skills over time, will help them continue to advance along any career path they choose.
Math Teaches Skills Such As Problem Solving
Along with the technical proficiencies learned in math class, students learn problem-solving skills and develop critical thinking. It has become common practice for teachers to present open-ended problems to students, and let them decide how to solve them. This might involve determining how much paint is needed to cover a room or deciding which path is best for traveling across the country. This shows that math understanding is less about remembering formulas, and more about solving problems.
More employers than ever want to hire employees who have strong critical thinking skills. When faced with a challenge, workers need to solve problems on their own and come to logical conclusions that are drawn from the information they're given. The more that students can hone these problem-solving skills when they're young, the more likely they are to succeed in the workforce once they become adults.
Students might not be interested in entering a math-related field, but that doesn't mean their careers will be math-free. If they hope to land jobs and advance their careers, they’ll need to use math throughout their lives.
National PTA has a new STEM + Families initiative designed to increase access to STEM education and careers by sharing effective ways to engage families in STEM experiences while working with partners to improve access to STEM education. Mathnasium is a founding sponsor of the initiative (as the “M” in STEM) and is currently working with local PTAs and other parent-teacher organizations to bring Math Nights to schools across the country. Ask your local parent-teacher group to work with a Mathnasium Learning Center to bring the event to your school.