Kern County ranks 4th in the nation for STEM jobs, according to the Brookings Institution, thanks to the area’s prevalence of energy, value-added agriculture, aerospace and defense, healthcare, and logistics/warehousing industries. Salaries for STEM workers in Kern County average more than $72,000, compared to $36,000 for non-STEM jobs. STEM jobs in Kern County are highly attainable, since more than half of them do not require a four-year degree. Unfortunately, 10% of high skilled local jobs go unfilled, due to an insufficient number of qualified candidates. For the benefit of Kern County’s youth, local employers, and the region’s economy as a whole, KEDF strives to increase the number of young people seeking careers in STEM through a variety of programs that link the business and education communities.
Our signature event is the Kern County STEMposium which brings students and businesses together for a STEM expo where students showcase their best STEM projects, and businesses demonstrate equipment and skills required to be successful in the workplace. This event reaches students from all over the county of all ages! In our 3rd year we nearly tripled the number of attendees from our inaugural year in 2017, with more than 2,500 students attending the event. The event inspires students to think about local career options, and provides adults the chance to see the exciting STEM projects happening in local schools. Connections and relationships made through the STEMposium often lead to ongoing field-trip and guest speaker opportunities.