The National Science Board (NSB, Board) on February 1 released its policy companion statement to Science and Engineering Indicators 2018, “Our nation’s future competitiveness relies on building a STEM-capable U.S. workforce.” The statement underscores the Board’s view that growing the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical for our economy and global competitiveness. It offers recommendations for strengthening a diverse STEM-capable U.S. workforce inclusive of all levels of education.
“STEM knowledge and skills are vital for our nation’s businesses to compete in today’s world, and for bringing better jobs and greater prosperity to every region of our country,” said Victor McCrary, NSB member and vice president for Research and Economic Development at Morgan State University. “Businesses large and small across the U.S. need adaptable, STEM-capable workers at every education level and from all demographic groups in order to be competitive. Creating a strong, diverse STEM-ready workforce is essential to economic and social prosperity and we all have a role to play in this critical effort.”
According to the National Survey of College Graduates, the number of U.S. jobs that require substantial expertise in STEM has increased nearly 34 percent over the past decade. While the number of Americans with a four-year degree in science and engineering (S&E) grew by 53 percent between 2000 and 2014; in China, this number increased by 360 percent. U.S leadership in global S&E is being challenged. The NSB’s statement reflects the Board’s strong conviction that a diverse STEM-capable U.S. workforce that leverages the talents of all segments of our population is more important than ever. It notes that we now live in a global economy where knowledge reigns, and so we must do all we can to ensure that our people can succeed and contribute to the well-being of our country.
The new policy companion statement addresses the need to grow a STEM-capable U.S. workforce that leverages the talents of people at all education levels and in all sectors. It not only includes traditional scientists and engineers performing research in university, government, or industry labs, but also “skilled technical workers” who can install, repair, debug, and build, but do not have a four-year degree. This skilled technical workforce includes a large, diverse group of workers that are crucial components of almost every sector of the U.S. economy, from “blue collar” occupations--such as installation, maintenance, and repair--to healthcare and computer jobs.
Read the full press release and statement.