House lawmakers wrapped up the year by passing three bills aimed at strengthening government programs for people hoping to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. As both the government and the private sector struggle to fill STEM positions with top talent, the bipartisan legislation would support education and training initiatives for women, veterans and other groups who are historically underrepresented in STEM fields.
The President’s Computer Science for All initiative commits significant federal resources to training new computer science teachers, upgrading educational materials and creating regional computer science education partnerships. But money alone isn’t the answer. For instance, part of the huge national shortage of qualified STEM workers is found in STEM-related occupations that only require two-year associates’ degrees or advanced vocational training.
CompTIA projects that 1.8 million new tech jobs will be created between 2014 and 2024, many of them requiring people with data and computer-science credentials. Retiring baby boomers will leave countless additional positions open. But colleges and universities are turning out only about 28,000 computer-science graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees per year, based on the most recent figures from 2015, according to the consulting firm Deloitte.
The gender gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is a known and stubborn quandary: While women make up roughly half of the college-educated U.S. workforce, they account for less than 30% of STEM jobs. To fix that, the Girl Scouts hopes to prepare at least 2.5 million girls for potential STEM-related jobs by 2025.
According to the 2016 report titled, “Minority and Female Employment in the Oil & Natural Gas and Petrochemical Industries, 2015-2035” by IHS Global prepared for API, “nearly 1.9 million direct job opportunities are projected through 2035 in the oil and natural gas and petrochemical industries” and “African Americans and Hispanics will account for over 80 percent of the net increase in the labor force from 2015 to 2035.”
Jobs in industries such as food services, transportation, and retail trade are at high risk of being automated, forcing workers to gain new skills to compete for well-paying jobs. From Google’s self-driving cars to Apple’s communication technology to Amazon’s retail model, automation is becoming more and more pervasive. As communities across the U.S. witness growing gaps between the skills that workers have and the ones that employers need, workers will need training.
S&P Global believes that a dual-pronged effort of increasing entry and retention of more women to the American workforce, particularly those professions traditionally filled by men, represents a substantial opportunity for growth of the world’s principal economy, with the potential to add 5%-10% to nominal GDP in just a few decades.
Given the lack of diversity and reports of hostility and discrimination, Congressperson Bobby Scott called on the Government Accountability Office to conduct a report that examines diversity, inclusion, hiring and discrimination in the tech industry. The GAO’s takeaway is that federal agencies need to improve their oversight of tech companies and diversity data collection methods.
The number of technology-based start-ups surged 47 percent in the last decade. These firms still account for a relatively small share of all businesses, but they have an outsized impact on economic growth, because they provide better-paying, longer-lasting jobs than other start-ups, and they contribute more to innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.
A massive influx of computer science majors in Colorado and across the country is overwhelming college and university classrooms as students opt to gain the skills required to fill nearly 500,000 open jobs in cybersecurity, data science and machine learning.