Four years ago, in 2016, the Omaha STEM Ecosystem (OSE) was launched to address the overwhelming shortfall of current and future STEM professionals in Omaha and across Nebraska. The demand for STEM talent has increased 31% over the past 10 years, and that trend is continuing, according to the Greater Omaha Chamber.
Nebraska’s statistics from the U.S. Department of Education suggest a pending skills gap in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Less than 46% of the state’s 4th grade students are proficient in mathematics. By 8th grade, proficiency drops to less than 38%. Similar is true in science, with proficiency less than 47% among 4th grade students and less than 41% among 8th grade students.
Early studies indicated the Greater Omaha area had numerous resources for STEM education and engagement but was operating in a silo that often did not align with business and industry needs. Our challenges included identifying critical workforce skills, aligning curriculum content with careers of the future, and providing access for all community members to quality STEM education programs.
We realized there was no single initiative that could close the STEM talent gap, as the issues we faced were complex. We started with a vision of what Omaha’s STEM community could look like and how the Omaha STEM Ecosystem could have an impact in developing a strong and vibrant STEM-focused community. Through the power of connections, collaborations, and communication we started to develop a shared understanding of the core talent needs and an actionable framework for our collective efforts to build the community’s STEM workforce.
Our current efforts include the development of this updated strategic plan, guiding our work through 2023. Through the commitment of more than 20 participants and their supporting organizations across all sectors, the stage has been set for a commitment to build a strong infrastructure, engage community partners, advocate for innovative programs, and expand evidence-driven research, assessments and outcomes.
This collective effort will continue to move forward through strategic partnerships to make Omaha a robust center of STEM excellence and innovation.
Director of Omaha STEM Ecosystem
View our strategic plan: Omaha STEM Ecosystem Strategic Plan 2020-2023