Clay Middelton is the National Nuclear Security Administrator/ Congressional Affairs Liaison for the Office of External Affairs in the U.S Department of Energy. Middleton provides advice and guidance on policy, serves as a trusted liaison to White House working groups as well as internal and external stakeholders. He is at the heart of job and career opportunities not just for today, but for decades to come.
“African American communities and organizations need to start talking about STEM which is going to be the jobs for not only this century but centuries to come”
According to New Geography website, the biggest job growth by far has taken place in the mining, oil and natural gas industry; where jobs expanded by 60% and can pay $20,000 more than other professional services. A trucker can start out making $85,000 in the field.
THE DISPARITY Although underserved communities are soon to be the new majority in the US, Caucasian males make up
55 percent of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) workforce followed only by Caucasian women who make up roughly 18 percent.
EDUCATION IS KEY Education is the key to getting these jobs, and Middleton believes that to bridge the gap for underrepresented communities, exposure to STEM education must start early. He emphasizes, “We cannot wait until high school to engage individuals in the sciences when they have no strong foundation… let alone [wait] until they get into college. We have to do a better job in informing, educating and exposing early” said Middleton.
GLOBAL VIEW The Department of Energy’s goals goes extend beyond leveling the playing field and strives to ensure America is able to compete with the rest of the world. Currently, there are more foreign students studying science-related fields in U.S. graduate schools than
U.S. students and over 2/3 of the engineers who receive Ph.D.’s from U.S. universities are not American citizens.
WORDS TO ACTION The U.S Department of Energy’s Office Of Economic Diversity and Impact has created National Science Bowls where high schools and middle school students can participate in nationwide competitions to test their knowledge of STEM and to encourage students to explore fields in STEM.
“The National Science Bowl is one of the best ways to engaged young people you don’t need to focus on winning the Science Bowl you need to focus on the process,” said Middleton.
According to Middleton the good news is that STEM field is now more appealing in the underserved community. “Imagine if you had your fraternity, sorority, lodges etc. doing this science bowl competition and people from
the higher-ed community bringing in energy leaders to aid the event… Then, the emphasis is not on being the next rapper, football or basketball star, but [on] being able to solve problems, being able to think critically, being able to invent and being able to discover things that would save lives and improve our society. In a nut shell, that is really what STEM is about,” said Middleton.
GLOBAL VIEW Middleton proposes that the Obama administration empha- sizes public/private partnerships. For STEM, in particular, there are a number of initiatives that exist throughout the federal govern- ment, the White House and this President realized that its going to take public and private partner- ships to sustain it,” said Middleton. It is critical for members of under- served communities to actively seek and utilize these initiatives in order to have a space in an in- dustry that creates empowerment, economic wealth, influence and can enhance the quality of life for self and future generations.