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Guest Blog: US Senator Kay Hagan- “if we are to win the jobs of the future, we need to win the race to innovation and discovery”

March 1, 2012

This is a post in the STEMconnector™ guest blog series, featuring US Senator Kay Hagan (NC).

Senator Hagan meets with a Machining Technology student at Central Carolina Community College

“As I travel across my home state of North Carolina, whether I’m in an urban innovation center such as the Research Triangle Park, or the community of Kinston with its Spirit AeroSystems facility, I hear the same refrain: we need more people with high-level skills in the science, technology, engineering and math subjects.

 

What’s true in North Carolina is true across the country: if we are to win the jobs of the future in today’s global economy, we need to win the race to innovation and discovery. And the biggest challenges of the next century—from communications to medicine to clean energy—require a workforce well versed in the STEM fields.

 

In the past 50 years alone, the number of workers in the science and engineering fields grew from 182,000 to about 5.5 million—a 3,000 percent increase. According to the Department of Commerce, in the last decade STEM jobs grew three times as fast as non-STEM jobs, and by 2018, STEM occupations are projected to increase by another 17 percent.

 

Because the demand exists for high-paying, American jobs in the STEM fields, we must ensure we have a supply of workers who can meet these needs. Too many community college presidents tell me that students begin their studies needing to take remedial courses in science and math before they can even begin introductory courses. For the nation to remain economically competitive, STEM education needs to be a priority in this country, beginning in elementary school.

 

We must also counter the notion that the STEM field is a “male only” club. March is Women’s History Month, and the contributions of women to science and technology—from Rosalind Franklin to Marie Curie—have long played an important role in the global quest for innovation. But today, women account for only 40% of our nation’s science and engineering degrees, and just 25% of math and computer science jobs. The challenges of the next century are too great for half our population to sit them out.

 

We need more young women, and more young men, to follow their passions for the sciences and fill the STEM jobs of the future.” – Senator Kay Hagan.

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