Nick Brossoit made a good point in his guest column [“Start a Washington state institute of technology,” Opinion, Dec. 15]. Our state does have an urgent need for STEM graduates. However, creating a new institution may not be the answer. Washington can narrow the skills gap by increasing STEM opportunities at two-year and four-year colleges.
Employers need STEM training at all levels — from certificates to bachelor’s degrees and beyond. Our 34 community and technical colleges fill the need. Students train for direct entry into STEM jobs, earn applied bachelor’s degrees or transfer to university STEM majors.
Right now, thousands of community and technical college students are training for 21st century careers in radiology, allied health, cyber security, civil engineering technology, nanotechnology, robotics, information technology and other STEM professions. Eleven of our colleges offer four-year, applied bachelor’s degrees, many in STEM fields.
For those wishing to transfer to a university, transfer agreements create a smooth path from community and technical colleges into four-year schools. Thirty-five percent of STEM majors at four-year colleges start at a community or technical college, having saved thousands in tuition.
By increasing STEM enrollments at every level, Washington can create a bigger, deeper talent pool for a prosperous economy.
Marty Brown, executive director, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges