All parents want the best for their children, and this is often the guiding principle by which they pursue their careers and arrange their lives. Much of the time, the concept of ‘what is best’ translates to a number of different things in relation to physical health, mental health and financial security.
While there are a great number of franchise brands devoted to children’s physical and mental health, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education-based franchises are helping children develop an interest in the most lucrative subjects. The aim of extra-curricular STEM franchise classes is not necessarily to push a child in the direction of pursuing a STEM-related career, but to encourage critical thinking and the ability to wrestle with, understand and internalize complex concepts.
Parents are willing to part with their hard-earned cash if it means their children will improve in some manner. The skills of the future will have deep STEM underpinnings, and the growing importance of computer skills will likely dominate the job market in the decades to come.
A number of brands have entered this market, and are enjoying success as the transformation of the job market continues at a rapid pace. The likes of Snapology and Junior Einsteins Science Club have established themselves as trusted names in this space as providers of quality education.
Every region in the world will eventually have its share of STEM-education franchise brands. Parents’ aspirations for their children cuts across all regions, social classes and religions.
Value of STEM-education for kids
Science, technology, engineering and math are the underpinnings of the modern technological world.
Consequently, these subject matters are not easily approached and require a degree of natural intelligence. During school years, the pursuance of such subjects was typically the preserve of the most intelligent and hard-working students, some of whom had exposure to STEM fields with their parents.
“In the last five years, I think STEM has become a common household reference word that parents understand as well as many teachers,” said Tracey-Jane Cassidy, founder and CEO of Junior Einsteins Science Club.
“Going back between five or 10 years, although parents and teachers understood the need and importance of science in schools, and were very aware that there was not enough science in schools. It was only when the term STEM started to be used within the education system that parents, teachers and principals started to realize what it meant.”
STEM occupations are growing at 24 per cent according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, while other occupations only grow at four per cent. Many of the jobs that exist today may not tomorrow, as companies find that they can be performed more cheaply with automation and machines. A high-quality STEM education will provide children with the skills, and more importantly, the confidence to approach STEM-related fields; which will be amongst the only major, well-paying fields left in time.
Bankrate compared the most valuable against the least valuable college majors and found that STEM graduates can find themselves earning around $93,000 as a graduate.
Learning and understanding a theory, equation or process takes critical thinking skills that can be applied in any field. Math-phobia is also a huge limiter for many young people; believing that they are incompetent or unable to understand mathematical concepts. Early introduction to STEM can blunt that anxiety at a young age and be of great use in the workplace in later life.
“The most rewarding part of what we do at Snapology is we’ve been in business now for 11 years,” said Laura Coe, CEO of Snapology.
“Now I’m seeing some of our first students go off to college and pursue STEM careers. We’re giving children that confidence, we’re exposing them to things that they may not have otherwise had exposure to and giving them the confidence.”
Proof that parents are spending
Generally, parents have opted for private and extra-curricular education around the world if the costs are reasonable.
“They know their child is interested in science, and they want their child to be doing something that they’re interested in,” said Cassidy.
“Parents don’t all have the time to spend sitting with their children doing chemistry experiments every Saturday; it’s much more convenient for them to have their child doing it at their school, or in a local club in their locality.”
The recognition and importance given to STEM subjects is not new in the slightest, and parents have been throwing cash behind their little ones for years. Many Chinese parents zealously arrange their children’s routines and lives around after-school classes to give them the best leg up possible when they hit an increasingly competitive job environment. China’s standing in the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) rankings stands to prove the effectiveness of this approach to education.
Many mothers, specifically, freely spend on their children’s education:
“I don’t have a cap on my budget,” said Zhuo, mother, speaking to Bloomberg.
“Yes, I’m investing a lot in his robotics education right now, but you have to take a long-term perspective and look at what opportunities it can bring him after he turns 18.”
Data from HSBC shows that the average spend for parents globally is $44,221, with Hong Kong as the highest spending nation at $132,161 and France as the lowest at $16,708. It also showed that 86 per cent of parents would make personal sacrifices if it contributed to their child’s success. It comes as no surprise that parents are willing to pay for that extra advantage.
“It’s fun to see how kids, even if they ultimately end up not going into that STEM profession, they’ll go into maybe something a little bit more technical,” said Coe.
“Or, at least have confidence to explore some different things that maybe they hadn’t thought about exploring, because their parents drove them in that in that academic direction.”
A report from Grand View Research says that the value of the global digital education market is expected to reach $77.23bn by 2023. While that is not all STEM-related education, it will only become a growing piece of the pie as its importance in the jobs market increases
The shape of the STEM education franchise space
Many children’s educational franchise brands that provide STEM classes typically do not brand themselves as such, but tend to focus on a specific branch of STEM.
Junior Einsteins Science Club, for example, focuses on the science aspect of STEM but still integrates the other subjects as STEM-related problems can require a knowledge of all four subjects. Like many, it focuses on entertaining children and educating by stealth.
Snapology is a novel franchise, making use of Lego, K’Nex and similar toys to engage children in the world of STEM, and is such a success that the brand is now present in 11 countries, and is still growing at a frantic pace in the U.S.
Children’s educators have made use of art and other fun activities to market STEM to children in their classes, and is the model of choice for many, especially those who provide classes for the lowest age groups.
“We design our programs in such a fun way, that after that first program, I feel like the children drive it a lot more,” said Coe.
It introduces what can be heavy and intimidating subjects with art, creating STEAM (science, technology, art, engineering and math). Many brands base their offering around art-based lessons that make children more comfortable and familiar with STEM subjects.
“There’s a huge amount of emphasis in Junior Einsteins on creativity and imagination. Children are naturally curious, they love to discover and explore, they adore making a mess, which is why our most popular sessions always involve slime,” said Cassidy.
“At Easter time, we do these experiments, and we do egg engineering. They get to smash eggs, they get to walk on eggs and they’re in heaven!”
A truly global want and need
A high-quality education should lead to a well-rounded individual with competency in a number of areas, but a lack of competency in any of the STEM subjects can greatly limit income and consequently, much more in life.
It’s plain to see that parents have recognized this for years, with parts of Asia constantly outperforming the rest of the world in school STEM. The PISA 2018 rankings showed how the obsession with extra-curricular education has paid off with China, Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong, Estonia and Japan taking the top 6 spots, respectively.
The industry is responding to these needs across the world. Brands like Snapology and Junior Einsteins Science Club aim to provide that early-stage familiarity with STEM subjects. Their uptake and popularity can be measured by the speed at which these brands grow and enter new territories.