TRAVERSE CITY, MI – The theme of the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars is “Pathways to Prosperity,” and there is no better route for a young person to find a successful career than to enter a field related to science, engineering, technology or math, the so-called “STEM” fields.

Mike Mansuetti, president of Robert Bosch North America, says there are tremendous opportunities for young people with STEM educations to obtain good-paying, rewarding careers in the auto industry.

For Bosch, this includes everyone from researchers who create the products of the future to engineers who touch every aspect of product development, manufacturing personnel and automotive technicians who maintain cars and trucks.

But like so many other companies, Mansuetti says Bosch can’t find enough qualified people to fill needed positions.

The problem, he says, is that even though STEM-related jobs are expected to grow, less than one-third of the students who plan to attend college are interested in such jobs.

Making matters worse, of the students that are interested, just more than half can demonstrate proficiency. And, of those who demonstrate proficiency, women and ethnic groups remain underrepresented.

Bosch is demonstrating its interest in reversing this trend by getting involved in a variety of activities such as the Bosch Community Fund, which awards up to $3 million annually in grants nationwide. The BCF focuses on STEM and environmental sustainability initiatives. To date, the BCF has awarded 145 grants totaling $5 million in more than 20 communities, Mansuetti says.

It has established university endowments, university support for undergraduates and technical colleges as well as university outreach efforts that target students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Bosch also is involved in FIRST Robotics, which is an acronym: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. It is a hands-on, interactive competition in which high-school students, guided by adult mentors, build a robot that competes against other robots. Bosch is supporting 16 teams nationwide for the 2014-2015 school year.

Mansuetti also says Bosch has been involved in SAE’s “A World in Motion” since 2006. In just the past year, about 200 Bosch employees have volunteered time in the program, reaching 2,400 students in K-12 classrooms. AWIM partners with industry and education to help teachers promote STEM education.

“We encourage our associates to volunteer in the classroom,” Mansuetti says. “Relationships are established, children learn from role models and they begin to think about and aspire to STEM-related careers. From our experience, volunteerism is very powerful.”

dwinter@wardsauto.com