It’s a known fact that the U.S. is producing too few qualified workers in science and technology, and with that being said, a new coalition has issued an urgent call for Congress to address the immediate high-skilled jobs crisis and strengthen the U.S. STEM education pipeline. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The coalition, known as inSPIRE STEM USA (Supporting Productive Immigration Reform and Education), is comprised of businesses, education advocates and other national organizations. Members currently include: American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Caterpillar, Council of Chief State School Officers, IBM, Intel, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Microsoft, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and National Science Teachers Association.
In coming weeks, the coalition will continue to add members who support a new and unique national strategy to address the STEM jobs crisis. The strategy enables private companies to pay for short-term and targeted increases in worker visas and green cards. These employer-generated funds will be dedicated to improving the nation’s long-term STEM education pipeline by recruiting and training more STEM teachers, broadening access to computer science for high school students, and helping students who start college in STEM fields earn their degrees.
inSPIRE STEM USA is co-chaired by former New Hampshire Senator John E. Sununu and Maria Cardona, a former adviser to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and surrogate for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
“Every member of inSPIRE STEM USA recognizes the need for an immediate solution to fill thousands of highly skilled job vacancies in the US,” Sununu said in a media release issued yesterday. “But we also know the root problem won’t be fixed unless we help repair the national STEM education pipeline. We expect the plan to enjoy a wide base of support because it relies on businesses needing STEM workers today to fund the STEM workers of tomorrow. This will ensure that these lucrative, economy-strengthening jobs remain in the U.S.”
STEM jobs are expected to grow 17 percent during the decade ending in 2018, compared with just 9.8 percent-growth in non-STEM jobs. But at the current pace, the U.S. won’t be able to produce enough workers to fill the jobs. In 2008, just four percent of all bachelor’s degrees were awarded in
engineering. In China, 31 percent of all bachelor’s degrees were in engineering and throughout all of
Asia the percentage was 19 percent.
From 2010 to 2020, the U.S. will have about 1.2 million openings in computing professions that require a bachelor’s degree. At the current pace, however, the U.S. will not produce even half the number of graduates needed to fill those positions.
Examining the computer science field more closely, through the year 2020, the U.S. economy is expected to produce 120,000 new computing jobs each year, jobs that will require at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study. However, America annually produces just
40,000 graduates with bachelor’s degrees in computer science.
“America continues to face stronger economic challenges than ever before,” said Fred Humphries, Microsoft’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “In order to continue to strengthen our long term competitiveness, generate more jobs and foster innovation, we need to address the shortage of American workers with science, technology, and math skills for the years ahead as well as the issue of high-skilled immigration to keep good jobs here at home now. We are pleased to join the inSPIRE STEM USA coalition as part of our efforts to advance solutions to the STEM skills gap that will help us remain globally competitive.”
Membership in the inSPIRE STEM USA coalition will grow in the coming weeks and months.