How the STEM Crisis Threatens the Future of Work
As the world’s leading economy, the U.S. is under pressure to produce the best minds to solve the greatest challenges facing mankind.
The problem is, the United States is falling behind in some of the most important areas of education to help solve the problems of today and tomorrow. The crisis in STEM fields—which cover science, technology, engineering and mathematics—is threatening the growing workforce and in turn, the country’s position in the global economy.
Today’s infographic from Early Childhood Education Degrees explores the importance of STEM education and how an emphasis on these four areas could successfully lead the world into an uncertain future.
The Rise of STEM
STEM is a relatively new term, coined less than two decades ago—although the grouping of subjects was sometimes referred to as SMET in previous years.
While 86% of Americans believe that increasing the number of workers in STEM areas is vital for maintaining their position in the global economy, a 2005 report sounded the alarm that U.S. students were lagging behind academically.
To combat this issue, STEM education and subsequent research programs were injected with more funding. New legislation also helped prioritize these subjects in the curriculum for kindergarten through high school.
The Skills Shift
According to Emsi, a modeler of economic data, undergraduates in STEM education increased by 43% between 2010 and 2016. However, despite the promising growth, 2.4 million STEM jobs went unfilled in 2018.
One possible reason for this? Advancing technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and robotics require entirely new skill sets. Success in STEM jobs also relies on adapting to new situations and developing soft skills such as:
- Creativity and innovation
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
- Collaboration and leadership
As these technologies continue to evolve, having skills in STEM will be non-negotiable for employees and leaders the world over.
Threatening U.S. Economic Leadership
Statistics show that the U.S. is providing more opportunities for other countries to take the lead in STEM fields. For example, 62% of all international students in tertiary education in the U.S. are in science and engineering fields, with almost 70% of those students coming from India and China.
What’s more, over half of all U.S. patents go to foreign nationals and companies instead of Americans at home.
If America’s STEM proficiency continues to decline, not only will the skills gap be detrimental to the workforce, but it will also erode its potential future for economic and scientific leadership.
The Global STEM Leaders
According to the World Economic Forum, China is a major player in STEM education, boasting 4.7 million graduates as of 2016.
The country’s swift uptake of STEM initiatives is driven by new government policy, school participation, and parents’ increasing awareness of the benefits that will future proof the careers of their children.
The U.S. sits in third place with 568,000 STEM graduates, but compares closely with India on STEM graduates per population—1 to 52 in India and 1 to 57 in the United States. However, they’re still no match for China’s 1 to 29 ratio.
Narrowing the Skills Gap
If the U.S. is to become a global leader in STEM literacy, innovation, and employment, the Department of Education suggests that a STEM reform is needed, with the increase of diversity and inclusion being a top priority.
A significant opportunity for growth lies in making STEM more accessible for women—but while there has been a steady rise in women pursuing STEM careers, there are still systemic barriers in place that prohibit women from entering.
Experts also suggest that the introduction of STEM at an earlier age and educating students on the diversity of STEM careers are crucial elements in preparing a more capable workforce.
Given the recent demand for reform, it is clear that STEM education is key to thriving in the new technology-based economy and cultivating solutions to real world problems.
Saying Bye to Facebook: Why Companies Change Their Name
Facebook’s impending rebrand will impact the company’s future. Why do companies change their name, and what can we learn from past examples?
As anyone who’s started a company knows, choosing a name is no easy task.
There are many considerations, such as:
- Are the social handles and domain name available?
- Is there a competitor already using a similar name?
- Can people spell, pronounce, and remember the name?
- Are there cultural or symbolic interpretations that could be problematic?
The list goes on. These considerations are amplified when a company is already established, and even more difficult when your company serves billions of users around the globe.
Facebook (the parent company, not the social network) has changed its name to Meta, and we’ll examine some probable reasons for the rebrand. But first we’ll look at historical corporate name changes in recent history, exploring the various motivations behind why a company might change its name. Below are some of the categories of rebranding that stand out the most.
Societal perceptions can change fast, and companies do their best to anticipate these changes in advance. Or, if they don’t change in time, their hands might get forced.
As time goes on, companies with more overt negative externalities have come under pressure—particularly in the era of ESG investing. Social pressure was behind the name changes at Total and Philip Morris. In the case of the former, the switch to TotalEnergies was meant to signal the company’s shift beyond oil and gas to include renewable energy.
In some cases, the reason why companies change their name is more subtle. GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation) didn’t want to be associated with subprime lending and the subsequent multi-billion dollar bailout from the U.S. government, and a name change was one way of starting with a “clean slate”. The financial services company rebranded to Ally in 2010.
Hitting the Reset Button
Brands can become unpopular over time because of scandals, a decline in quality, or countless other reasons. When this happens, a name change can be a way of getting customers to shed those old, negative connotations.
Internet and TV providers rank dead last in customer satisfaction ratings, so it’s no surprise that many have changed their names in recent years.
We Do More
This is a very common scenario, particularly as companies go through a rapid expansion or find success with new product offerings. After a period of sustained growth and change, a company may find that the current name is too limiting or no longer accurately reflects what the company has become.
Both Apple and Starbucks have simplified their company names over the years. The former dropped “Computers” from its name in 2007, and Starbucks dropped “Coffee” from its name in 2011. In both these cases, the name change meant disassociating the company with what initially made them successful, but in both cases it was a gamble that paid off.
One of the biggest name changes in recent years is the switch from Google to Alphabet. This name change signaled the company’s desire to expand beyond internet search and advertising.
The Start-Up Name Pivot
Another very common name change scenario is the early-stage name change.
In the world of music, there’s speculation that limited melodies and subconscious plagiarism will make creating new music increasingly difficult in the future. Similarly, there are millions of companies in the world and only so many short and snappy names. (That’s how we end up with companies called Quibi.)
Many of the popular digital services we use today started with very different names. The Google we know today was once called Backrub. Instagram began life as Bourbn, and Twitter began life as “Twittr” before finding a spare E in the scrabble pile.
As mentioned above, many companies start out as speculative experiments or passion projects, when a viable, well-vetted name isn’t high on the priority list. As a result, new companies can run into problems with copyright.
This was the case when Picaboo, the precursor of Snapchat, was forced to change their name in 2011. The existing Picaboo—a photobook company—was not thrilled to share a name with an app that was primarily associated with sexting at the time.
The fight over the name WWF was a more unique scenario. In 1994, the World Wildlife Fund and the World Wrestling Federation had a mutual agreement that the latter would stop using the initials internationally, except for fleeting uses such as “WWF champion”. In the end though, the agreement was largely ignored, and the issue became a sticking point when the wrestling company registered wwf.com. Eventually, the company rebranded as WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) after losing a lawsuit.
To err is human, and rebranding exercises don’t always hit the mark. When a name change is universally panned or, perhaps worse, not relevant, it’s time to course correct.
Tribune Publishing was forced to backtrack after their name change to Tronc in 2016. The widely-panned name, which was stylized in all lower case, was seen as a clumsy attempt to become a digital-first publisher.
Why Is Facebook Changing Its Name?
Facebook undertook this name change for a number of reasons, but chief among them is that the brand is irrevocably associated with scandals, negative externalities, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Even before the most recent outage and whistle-blowing scandal, Facebook was already the least-trusted tech company by a long shot. Mark Zuckerberg was once the most admired CEO in Silicon Valley, but has since fallen from grace.
It’s easy to focus on the negative triggers for the impending name change, but there is some substance behind the change as well. For one, Facebook recognizes that privacy issues have put their primary source of revenue at risk. The company’s ad-driven model built upon its users’ data is coming under increasing scrutiny with each passing year.
As well, there is substance behind the metaverse hype. Facebook first signaled their ambitions in 2014, when it acquired the virtual reality headset maker Oculus. A sizable portion of the company’s workforce is already working on making the metaverse concept a reality, and there are plans to hire 10,000 more people in Europe over the next five years.
It remains to be seen whether this immense gamble pays off, but for the near future, Zuckerberg and Facebook’s investors will be keeping a close eye on how the media and public react to the new Meta name and how the transition plays out. After all, there are billions of dollars at stake.
Mapped: The Fastest (and Slowest) Internet Speeds in the World
Internet speeds vary depending on your location. Here’s a look at the countries with the fastest—and slowest—internet speeds worldwide.
Mapped: The World’s Fastest (and Slowest) Internet Speeds
How quickly did this page load for you?
The answer depends on the device you’re using, and where in the world you’re located. Average internet speeds vary wildly from country to country.
Which countries have the fastest internet connection? Using data from the Speedtest Global Index™, this map ranks the fastest (and slowest) internet speeds worldwide, comparing both fixed broadband and mobile.
What Factors Affect Internet Speed?
Before diving in, it’s important to understand the key factors that impact a country’s internet speed. Generally speaking, internet speed depends on:
- Infrastructure or the type of cabling (copper or fiber-optic) that a country’s utilizing to support their internet service. Typically, the newer the infrastructure, the faster the connection.
- Proximity/connection to submarine cables is important, as these massive undersea fiber-optic cables transmit about 97% of the world’s communication data.
- The size of a country, since landmass affects how much it costs to upgrade infrastructure. The smaller the country, the cheaper it is to upgrade cabling.
- Investment makes a difference, or how much a country’s government prioritizes internet accessibility.
Of course, other factors may influence a country’s internet speed too, such as government regulation and intentional bandwidth throttling, which is the case in countries like Turkmenistan.
Ranked: Fixed Broadband Internet Speeds
The Speedtest Global Index uses data from hundreds of millions of people, in more than 190 countries, to measure both fixed broadband and mobile connections.
When it comes to the fastest fixed broadband, Singapore comes in first place, with a download speed of 262.2 mbps—more than double the global average.
|#||Country||Global Speed (Mbps)|
|2||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||254.4|
|7||🇰🇷 South Korea||216.7|
|12||🇺🇸 United States||199|
|13||🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||195.11|
|20||🇲🇴 Macau (SAR)||170.84|
|23||🇳🇿 New Zealand||164.16|
|40||🇸🇲 San Marino||114.24|
|47||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||95.79|
|51||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||91.65|
|52||🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||87.42|
|74||🇨🇷 Costa Rica||57.27|
|76||🇧🇸 The Bahamas||55.89|
|78||🇿🇦 South Africa||53.6|
|80||🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||50.8|
|84||🇱🇨 Saint Lucia||49.5|
|90||🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||43.1|
|91||🇲🇭 Marshall Islands||42.6|
|98||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||38.84|
|101||🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire||35.41|
|109||🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis||32.78|
|110||🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||31.85|
|116||🇸🇻 El Salvador||26.41|
|119||🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||26.05|
|123||🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||25.52|
|126||🇨🇬 Congo (Brazzaville)||24.12|
|128||🇪🇭 Western Sahara||23.84|
|130||🇨🇻 Cape Verde||23.78|
|139||🇲🇲 Republic of the Union of Myanmar||19.78|
|146||🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda||17.11|
|152||🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||16.4|
|163||🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea||12.17|
|164||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||12.13|
|165||🇨🇩 DR Congo||11.46|
|169||🇸🇿 Swaziland (Eswatini)||10.62|
|172||🇬🇲 The Gambia||10.09|
Size could be a factor in Singapore’s speedy internet, as it’s one of the smallest
and also densest countries in the world. With a landmass of just 280 square miles, it’s around the same size as Austin, Texas.
The country’s government has also prioritized investment in digital infrastructure, especially in recent years. In 2020, the Singaporean government promised to invest $2.52 billion towards digital innovation, with a portion dedicated to upgrading the country’s telecom infrastructure.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Cuba has the slowest fixed broadband, with a speed of 3.46 mbps. Along with poor government funding, Cuba also has limited access to submarine cables. While most countries are connected to several, Cuba is only connected to one.
Ranked: Mobile Internet Speeds
Mobile internet uses cell towers to wirelessly transmit internet to your phone. Because of this extra element, the ranking for mobile internet speeds varies from fixed broadband.
|#||Country||Global Speed (Mbps)|
|1||🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||195.52|
|2||🇰🇷 South Korea||192.16|
|6||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||149.95|
|17||🇺🇸 United States||96.31|
|23||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||80.82|
|25||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||78.75|
|27||🇳🇿 New Zealand||73.17|
|34||🇲🇴 Macau (SAR)||62.43|
|42||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||57.37|
|47||🇿🇦 South Africa||50.44|
|66||🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||37.54|
|70||🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||34.97|
|72||🇨🇷 Costa Rica||34.39|
|78||🇧🇸 The Bahamas||32.63|
|85||🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||31.07|
|93||🇲🇲 Republic of the Union of Myanmar||27.94|
|99||🇸🇻 El Salvador||25.17|
|125||🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire||18.37|
|130||🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||16.02|
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is first on the list, with a download speed of 195.5 mbps. Not only is mobile data fast in the UAE, it’s also relatively cheap, compared to other countries on the ranking. The average cost of 1 GB of data in the UAE is around $3.78, while in South Korea (#2 on the list) it’s $10.94.
The Future is 5G
Innovation and new technologies are changing the digital landscape, and things like 5G networks are becoming more mainstream across the globe.
Because of the rapidly changing nature of this industry, the data behind this ranking is updated monthly to provide the latest look at internet speeds across the globe.
This means the bar is gradually raising when it comes to internet speed, as faster, stronger internet connections become the norm. And countries that aren’t equipped to handle these souped-up networks will lag behind even further.
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