Excelencia in Education released a new report revealing the top 25 colleges graduating Latinos in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The report, Finding Your Workforce: STEM, shares evidence-based practices to increase Latino student success in these disciplines.
“We need to increase the number of degrees in STEM fields to remain competitive as a nation,” says Deborah Santiago, vice president for policy and research for Excelencia in Education and lead author of the report. “Hispanics are projected to account for 75 percent of the growth in the nation’s labor force between 2010 and 2020. We want to make sure Latinos complete certificates and degrees in STEM areas,” she adds.
The top institutions came primarily from six states (Arizona, Florida, California, Illinois, New Mexico and Texas) and Puerto Rico. These institutions combined awarded over 40 percent of the certificates or degrees to Latinos in STEM in the academic year 2009-2010.
The report revealed Latinos were more likely to be represented in lower-paying STEM service occupations (electrical, telecommunication line installers, aircraft mechanics and service technicians) than in higher paying STEM professional occupations (architectural and engineering managers, and computer and information systems managers).
“We do often find that Latinos specifically enrolled in STEM fields at the associate level are much more likely to be low-income first-generation college goers,” says Santiago. “I think our challenge is showing how we can get these young people to transfer and move up to the baccalaureate and graduate levels,” she adds.
Many institutions were recognized among multiple levels of STEM. On the certificate and associate level, South Texas College saw high levels of Latino graduates in the biological/biomedical sciences and engineering fields. Also on this level, the Instituto de Banco y Comercio in Puerto Rico saw high numbers of graduates in the computer and information technology sciences and engineering.
On the bachelor and graduate level, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez saw high levels of graduating Latinos in biological/biomedical sciences, physical sciences and technology. The same went for the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras for physical sciences.
Other institutions recognized were San Jacinto Community College in Texas, College of Southern Nevada, Texas A & M, and Instituto de Banco y Comercia in Puerto Rico.
“We need an all-hands-on-deck approach,” says Aneesh Chopra, former chief technology officer of the U.S., White House office of Science and Technology Policy. “We have to improve our STEM literacy to move the country from today’s middle-of-the-pack performance to the top. We have to expand STEM education and job opportunities to our underrepresented communities. We have hidden talent that is ready to break through and solve some of our biggest challenges today,” he adds.
This report is the third in a series by Excelencia linking college completion goals to the country’s workforce needs. The findings are intended to help recruiters and employers identify the institutions which are successful in graduating the highest number of Latinos in different sectors.
Excelencia in Education hopes to continue this series to look at levels of completion in business, education and liberal arts.