“Workforce development is greatly important to the future of Sigma-Aldrich,” says Rakesh Sachdev, president and CEO. “We see fewer students in Missouri choosing to enter into STEM professions. For our business—and the region as a whole—to succeed, we need a pipeline of qualified employees for a STEM economy.”
The company believes it is important for today’s students to know how what to apply their educational knowledge to the real world. Sigma-Aldrich has also encountered many students who don’t get enough hands-on science opportunities, which is a problem that’s been amplified by tightening school districts’ fiscal resources.
Sigma-Aldrich is also a founding member of STEMpact, a collaborative funding effort focused on increasing professional development for educators in grades K-8 in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. To date, STEMpact has reached more than 250 teachers and created a direct impact on more than 15,000 students in the St. Louis area.
Early indicators are very positive. Students have posted an eight-point increase in math scores and a ten-point increase in science scores on standardized tests after their teachers participated in STEMpact’s professional development workshops.
To make these programs work, Sigma-Aldrich relies on employees who are active and engaged in the process.
Sachdev says Sigma-Aldrich isn’t looking for immediate benefits from its work in education. Rather, the company wants to ensure the region has a solid math and science workforce for the future.
“We understand that to make an impact means making a long-term investment in Missouri and its students,” he says. “Regionally, the growth and expansion of entrepreneurial activity in the STEM economy, specifically in biosciences in St. Louis, is a precursor to what we believe will be an engine for growth for the state. Making sure that we have a strong pipeline of STEM-prepared individuals will help us position the state for strong economic growth and prosperity.”