Martin Abraham, dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, said that today’s job market provides numerous job openings for STEM graduates — but that the community lacks the workforce to fill those positions.
With 11.3 percent of Youngstown’s population holding a bachelor’s degree in 2009, the city ranked last among 95 metropolitan areas in terms of higher education attainment, according to the Brookings Institution.
As a way to prepare students for skilled jobs, STEM has teamed up with Chaney High School and area employers to create the STEM Outreach Initiative.
AT&T has also partnered, putting a $20,000 grant toward the initiative.
Abraham said high school students typically take only the required math and science courses and are not prepared when they get to college.
“Part of the challenge for us is to help the high school students become properly educated graduates so that when they come here we have properly educated freshmen,” Abraham said.
The STEM Outreach Initiative would allow select students from Chaney to work with area employers during a summer internship program.
Sherri Hrusovski, coordinator of STEM student professional services, said students would be selected through an interview process.
The initiative would also help students build their resumes and develop interview skills.
“The idea is to give them full experience from beginning to end,” Hrusovski said.
Abraham said STEM decided to collaborate with Chaney for three reasons: the school’s curriculum, its location and the high percentage of underrepresented minorities in Youngstown.
“We want our best kids staying here,” Abraham said.
The STEM Outreach Initiative is also a recruiting tool to attract more STEM students to Youngstown State University.
Hrusovski said that if students complete the program and decide to further their education at YSU, a scholarship would be available.
Abraham said the initiative would also help boost the university’s student population of minorities and first-generation college students.
“The intent is to give them real work experience and give them an idea of what type of jobs are available,” Abraham said.
Abraham hopes that the program will become self-sustaining and be able to reach out to more high schools.
“There are high school students out there who may think, ‘Well, I could be an engineer, or I could be a nurse,’ and we hope that this opportunity could show these students what opportunities are out there,” he said. “We want them to understand that it’s a lot of hard mental work.”
Hrusovski said the interview process will begin in the near future.
She added that YSU students will have the opportunity to tutor and mentor the Chaney students involved with the initiative.
“I think this program will do a lot for the students who want to learn,” Hrusovski said. “I believe that especially in college we should be learning something new every day.”