Empowering the STEM Workforce of the Future

How Chemours is helping develop and diversify the next generation of innovators
May 9, 2024 1:30 PM ET
STEM Students

Originally published in the Delaware Business Magazine's May/June 2024 issue.

By Najwa Corum, Early Career Program Leader at Chemours

The world is innovating at a rapid pace as we work to solve major global challenges, from climate change and decarbonization to managing the boom in artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

At Chemours, our chemistry is integral to many of the innovations needed to solve these problems, including the development of clean energy, electric vehicles, semiconductor chips, sustainable refrigeration and cooling solutions, and more. While these transformations are helping us build a brighter future for our planet, they aren’t without their demands—including access to a strong and diverse Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce here in Delaware and across the country.

Some forecasts show that the United States will add nearly 800,000 new STEM jobs by 2031, compared to 2021 numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts data science jobs will increase by 35% by 2032, mechanical engineers by 10%, chemical engineers by 8%, and chemists and materials scientist jobs by 6%—all at rates faster than average for all occupations.

That’s why Chemours is focused on identifying and developing that next generation of talent through initiatives like our internship/ co-op program and investments in STEM education. Our program is part of our strategic effort to attract high-quality, early-career talent from colleges and universities. It provides students with a hands-on opportunity to jumpstart their career in fields like chemical or mechanical engineering at one of our manufacturing sites or in research and development positions at the Chemours Discovery Hub (CDH) on the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus. At the same time, this program allows our teams to train and evaluate high-potential candidates who can meet our future hiring needs.

In 2023, we hosted 97 interns and co-ops across our plant sites and locations, with nearly a third of the graduating seniors becoming full-time employees.

However, ensuring a strong STEM workforce also means having a diverse one. Innovation is driven by diversity; diversity in thinking, experiences, and backgrounds. To continue to innovate and meet future challenges, we need input from different perspectives.

The numbers from our 2023 internship/co-op program paint a promising picture of the progress we have made in diversifying our talent pool. Women candidates made up 35% of the program in 2023, with ethnic candidates comprising 48% of the talent pool who self-reported on these metrics. Moreover, 5% of interns in our program attended a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).

Partnerships are essential to our progress and investments in the future of STEM. Nearly half of the students in our 2023 internship program came from universities and colleges where we have established relationships, including Delaware State University and the University of Delaware. At the same time, we leverage partnerships with organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, Women in Manufacturing, the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers to increase reach to potential candidates.

We also utilize our scholarship programs, such as the Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI) and Chemours’ Future of Chemistry Scholarships (FOCS), to tap into diverse talent pools.

FOSSI is a game-changing program that provides scholarships and professional development opportunities to uplift students from communities that are underrepresented in STEM. Chemours has partnered with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemistry Council, and the HBCU Week Foundation to help ensure students pursuing STEM degrees at HBCUs receive scholarships and are connected to internships, leadership development, and mentoring opportunities. Through FOSSI, Chemours has sponsored 60 scholars, each of whom has received a scholarship of $40,000.

FOCS, in turn, delivers scholarships to high-potential young people from communities where we operate who will or are currently studying a STEM-related field in college—helping them on their journey to an exciting and meaningful career. With the forecasted growth of the STEM industry, we need a robust and diverse pool of talent to develop innovations and help tackle global challenges.

Chemours is proud to play a pivotal role in helping to identify up-and-coming talent, connect students with scholarship opportunities, and provide real-world learning experiences to the next generation of innovators. We encourage more students to explore the opportunities Chemours has to offer (check out www.chemours.com/careers) to begin or continue their journey in STEM. We believe that together, we will create a better world through the power of our chemistry.

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