Washington, D.C.—January 22, 2013—With the United States producing too few qualified workers in science and technology, a new coalition today 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, 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. “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.”
The coalition announced veteran political consultant Beneva Schulte will serve as the coalition’s executive director. Schulte’s career spans more than 20 years and includes work on Capitol Hill and with other issue-based coalitions. Among other positions, she served as Chief Deputy Director for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a commission established by Congress to consider the causes of the financial crisis.
STEM jobs are expected to grow by 17 percent during the decade ending in 2018, compared to 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.
“Our talent crisis today is directly related to a shortage of STEM graduates which restrict US employers’ ability to fill the high-skilled jobs that are being created at an ever-growing rate,” said inSPIRE STEM USA Co-Chair Maria Cardona. “Reducing America’s STEM jobs gap and ensuring that our education system is better able to keep up with the expected rise in demand for high-skilled jobs in the coming decades is the best way to ensure that America remains globally competitive.”
Membership in the inSPIRE STEM USA coalition will grow in the coming weeks and months. Below are statements from some the current inSPIRE STEM USA members:
American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Jeremy Berg, President
“Within the life science community, ASBMB is committed to ensure America has the best trained and able biomedical research workforce in the world spanning the breadth of the American population. This is essential to keeping America a global leader for innovation, which benefits the US through ensuring a strong healthy economy - and a strong healthy populace. America has long been a magnet for the world’s most talented young scholars, and without sensible immigration reform, we fear America will educate the world’s scientists, only to have to compete with them as they return to more opportunities in their countries of origin.”
Council of Chief State School Officers
Chris Minnich, Executive Director
“As a national organization that supports state leadership in education policy, CCSSO promotes thoughtful approaches to improving U.S. education systems. U.S. students recently finished 25 th in mathematics and 17 th in science in a ranking of 31 countries’ performance on international assessments. Improving STEM education is a national priority that requires an increased focus at the federal, state, and local levels. CCSSO is pleased to join inSPIRE as we work together to strengthen educational pipelines for STEM students across the country.”
Christopher Padilla, Vice President of Governmental Programs
“IBM is committed to advancing STEM skills in the United States so that we can fill high-skilled jobs that support our clients and drive economic growth. STEM graduates from around the world make an important contribution to America’s economic success while meeting the needs of U.S. employers. IBM is proud to join the inSPIRE STEM USA coalition to promote solutions to our high-skilled talent shortage and drive economic competitiveness through adequate funding for STEM education and immigration reform.”
Brent Wilkes, Executive Director
“While the success of our economy remaining globally competitive lies in the STEM field, the success of the U.S. STEM field lies in educating our country’s youth. Already, a quarter of kids in kindergarten are Latino, and in 2050, one out of three Americans will be of Latino descent. Yet, Latinos are greatly underrepresented in the STEM field. This is why LULAC supports inSPIRE STEM USA in their mission to help grow our economy by providing our children with the opportunity to train in STEM fields, earn college degreesk, and help propel the nation forward.”
Fred Humphries, Vice President of Government Affairs
“America continues to face stronger economic challenges than ever before. 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.”
National Association of Manufacturers
Jay Timmons, President and CEO
“Manufacturing is a sleek, technology-focused industry that requires high-skilled workers to drive the innovation that has made us the world’s manufacturing leader. Manufacturers are dealing with a skills gap that has left 600,000 jobs vacant across the nation. inSPIRE STEM USA is urging Congress and the Administration to implement immigration and education policies that will fix the skilled worker crisis as they look to address the need for comprehensive immigration reform. By reforming the H-1B visa system, manufacturers can fill existing jobs today while strengthening the U.S. STEM education pipeline to ensure that U.S. college graduates are able to fill those jobs tomorrow.”
National Science Teachers Association
Dr. Gerald Wheeler, Interim Executive Director
“Schools everywhere are in desperate need of resources that can truly support effective STEM instruction and every day teachers are asked to do more with less to prepare our next generation of problem solvers, inventors, and leaders. Every single child in this country deserves a quality STEM education, that’s why NSTA supports inSPIRE STEM USA and their common sense approach to provide much-needed funding for K-12 science and STEM education.”
The inSPIRE STEM USA website is www.inspirestemusa.org.
inSPIRE STEM USA