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Board makes four recommendations to increase Skilled Technical Workforce

October 03, 2019

Expanding and diversifying the nation’s Skilled Technical Workforce (STW) is vital to the nation’s future, according to a new report from the policymaking board of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that predicts a shortfall of 3.4 million skilled technical workers by 2022 unless changes are made.

The Skilled Technical Workforce: Crafting America’s Science and Engineering Enterprise report found that there are currently about 17 million workers without college degrees who use science and engineering skills in jobs such as health care technicians, computer systems analysts and administrators, and operators of “smart” infrastructure.

“For too long this crucial segment of our STEM workforce has been underappreciated,” said Victor McCrary, chair of the National Science Board’s Skilled Technical Task Force, in a press release regarding the report. “And yet it has and will continue to be essential to America’s economic prosperity, our scientific and technological competitiveness, and our national security.”

The report offered four recommendations to increase the STW numbers:

  • Change the Message: It’s important to raise awareness about STW educational pathways and career opportunities, and counter what the report called “misconceptions and lack of awareness of skilled technical career opportunities among parents, educators, guidance counselors and students.”
  • Focus on the Data: Government and non-governmental stakeholders should share data on the education, skills, and workforce characteristics of the STW “to better inform consumers, develop partnerships, and leverage existing investments.”
  • Leverage Federal Investments: The federal agencies that support STW programs should take a coordinated approach to better maximize their individual efforts and reap dividends from their investments.
  • Build Partnerships: The nation’s educational institutions – K-12 schools, two- and four-year colleges, and other post-high school education and workforce development programs – “should work as partners together with business and industry to grow the STEM-capable U.S. workforce via STW programs that are tailored to the needs of their local communities.”