by 2005, the figure decreased to 2.5%. And the pipeline for potential college graduates has slowed to a trickle: NACME found that only 4% of minority high school graduates are “engineering eligible” and just 1.3% of the available pool of minority high school graduates earns such degrees from America’s colleges and universities each year.
All of us—parents, students, teachers, businesspeople—must play a role in attacking this dilemma. When your children begin grade school, you must be active participants in their education and ensure that they have a curriculum that includes science, math, and other subjects key to their future employability and career mobility. Teachers must continue to encourage students to master such skills and infuse them with the passion and fortitude to tackle such a challenging course load. Professionals and entrepreneurs, too, should serve as mentors and incubators for emerging talent in these fields.
To paraphrase an old saying, it will take a village to make our children employable and our nation competitive. We could potentially lose yet another generation of engineers, scientists, technologists, and entrepreneurs while creating a permanent underclass. The new American economy is dependent upon advancements in digital technology, programming, manufacturing, healthcare, space exploration, finance, food production and “green” industries. It’s up to us to plant the seeds so we can harvest a bumper crop of African American innovators in the future.