By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You might think that the high-tech nature of our times would be an automatic magnet for companies and workers alike, but sometimes it’s a tough sell.

So much of our lives revolves around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), yet fewer Americans are entering those fields.

Temple University will host a conference Tuesday on one of the main drivers of future economic growth.

“The conference is primarily open to small and mid-size businesses that are looking for opportunities to plug into STEM contracts within the reason,” Dr. Jamie Bracey, Temple’s director of STEM Education, said.

There’s a common push on employment and education, so that firms with jobs to fill have skilled people to fill them, and those with the skills can get jobs.

Of course, STEM education can be math-heavy.

“Eighty percent of the jobs coming out in the United States in relation to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, are really going to be for those people who understand how to manage big data, how to protect our systems integrity. Energy is a huge opportunity,” Bracey said.

Temple is at the center of a STEM education push that goes from Kindergarten until sophomore year in college, when interest in STEM careers wanes, perhaps because of the math-heavy curriculum, but Dr. Bracey says we as a nation can’t afford failure.

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