A new report from Washington STEM estimates that just nine out of every 100 children born in this state will end up employed in a science- or technology-related field here. That figure is far too low, it says, to fill the 50,000 STEM jobs expected to go unfilled in Washington by 2017.
The report, “Opportunity for all: Investing in Washington State’s STEM Education Pipeline,” was prepared by a consulting group and released at Washington STEM’s annual STEM Summit, held today on the Microsoft campus in Redmond. Scheduled speakers include Gov. Jay Inslee and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who visited two Kent schools on Monday to encourage students to pursue careers in tech-related fields.
Access to courses in STEM fields, an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering and math, has been a focus for Education Lab this week. On Monday, a front-page story from higher education reporter Katherine Long detailed how the University of Washington and other colleges are giving students from low-performing high schools a “redshirt” year to catch up with their better-prepared peers.
Today at noon, we’re hosting a Google+ Hangout to discuss how universities are bringing more balance to engineering programs, which are typically dominated by white and Asian men from economically secure families.
Capacity at our state’s colleges and universities is part of the problem, according to the report. Applications to the engineering and computer science programs at UW have increased 40 percent since 2006-2007, it said, but the number of students admitted has remained flat. Roughly half of the students who are rejected have a GPA of at least 3.25.
Some other findings from the report:
- One in four STEM employees in Washington are women; one in five are black or Hispanic.
- Forty percent of Washington students graduate from high school with competency in STEM, but just 22 percent of college-bound students study a related field, and 13 percent of graduates from two- and four-year colleges earn a degree in one of these areas.
- An additional $650 million of spending in STEM education would create 8,ooo new jobs and generate a return of $4.5 billion in tax revenue and savings on social services.
Potential solutions cited by Washington STEM include investment in high-quality preschool, more computer science coursework at the high-school level, and more seats and scholarships in STEM fields at public colleges and universities.
Washington STEM is not the first group to sound the alarm on the state’s technology skills gap. A 2010 report from Washington Roundtable estimated that filling the state’s open STEM positions would create 110,000 “multiplier jobs.”