Keeping pace with the needs of a skilled workforce

If the U.S. is going to continue to compete globally and win on innovation, more workers will have to attain credentials allowing them to keep pace with the demands of the shifting workforce, say several recent reports. However, only a quarter of the states have more than 50 percent of their prime working age population attaining some kind of credential beyond high school according to a new study from the Lumina Foundation. A new Brookings analysis finds that 15 percent of young people are “disconnected,” meaning they do not have a job and are not in school. To meet the demands that the work of the future will entail, Lumina advocates that 60 percent of those aged 25 to 64 have some credential beyond high school by 2025 (the current national average is 46.9 percent).

Creating tomorrow’s STEM leaders in AZ schools

Arizona schools are taking a different approach to developing the next generation of STEM workers and leaders with the Chief Science Officer position, now in 120 schools across the state. The students, from grades six to 12, are elected by their peers and participate in training events where they learn about STEM activities and careers and can advocate for STEM education in their schools. Throughout the year, the students work with industry professionals or community mentors to apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Partners from a variety of organizations help support the training institutes for the students, and frequently host event at their sites or visit the schools. The program garnered the attention of former president Barack Obama and has sparked interest in other states and regions. The Arizona program is a collaborative initiative of Arizona Commerce Authority and Arizona Technology Council Foundation.

Money and incentives key to STEM teacher recruitment

To recruit more STEM students to teach in their field after graduation, pay them more money says a study by the American Physical Society (APS). Recognizing that innovation relies heavily on STEM initiatives and an educated workforce, the APS in collaboration with the American Chemical Society, Computing Research Association, and Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership set out to learn what discourages students in STEM from eventually teaching the subjects. Although STEM students who responded to a survey indicated they may be interested in the teaching profession, their misconceptions about salary and other factors seem to be keeping them out of teaching.

Funding top priority in CTE policy pursued by states in 2016

A fourth annual review of career and technical education (CTE) and career-readiness policies, found an increase in policy action carried out by states in 2016 with several states – including California, Idaho, Indiana and Virginia – passing packages of legislation that impacted multiple elements of CTE programming. State Policies Impacting CTE: 2016 Year in Review was produced by Advance CTE, formerly known as the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). They found that funding remains the most pursued approach, with 28 states taking action to financially support CTE activities in 2016. The second most popular CTE action pursued by states is policy related to industry partnerships and work-based learning (26 states) according to the report, followed by policies related to dual and concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college (21 states) and policies supporting the attainment of industry-recognized credentials (20 states). Rounding out the top five policy paths in 2016 was an increase in policies related to data, reporting and accountability, due in part to preparations for the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the report noted. Additional policies supporting CTE and a detailed breakdown of each state’s 2016 initiatives are also included

Manufacturing Competitiveness Relies on Talent

The U.S. ranks second on a global manufacturing competitiveness index, according to the 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index by research firm Deloitte Global and the Council on Competitiveness. The U.S. ranking has improved in each of the past studies and is poised to take over that top spot from China by 2020, the study maintains.  However, executives from across the world in responding to the study, noted that talent is the leading factor in determining manufacturing competitiveness, and finding and cultivating that talent is a topic that has received increasing attention from the manufacturing sector. While such rankings provide an interesting focal point, their real value lies in the discussion and attention focused on the subject matter. SSTI recently interviewed several leading thinkers on the subject, finding common calls for changing the approach to the talent pipeline in manufacturing, as well as a cautionary note on rankings.

Report Profiles Progress by State in Educational Attainment Rates

A new report from the Lumina Foundation finds the U.S. is making progress in the number of Americans holding high-quality credentials beyond high school diplomas. For the seventh straight year, the percentage of the country’s working age population (age 25-64 years) with a quality post-secondary credential increased, reaching 45.3 percent in 2014. Even with the progress that has been made, however, the U.S. still has a long way to go to meet the foundation’s goal that, by 2025, more than 60 percent of Americans will hold high-quality post-secondary degrees or certificates, according to the report. The full report also includes individual policy briefs for each state, highlighting discrepancies between credential, population group, county, and age. The five states with the highest attainment rates, according to the report, are: Massachusetts (55.4 percent); Colorado (54.2 percent); Connecticut (53.2 percent); Minnesota (52.9 percent); and, Washington (51.6 percent).

Race-Based Stereotypes Hamper STEM Participation Among African-American Women

Although black women may show more interest in STEM majors than white women as they enter college, they are less likely to earn a degree in those fields according to new research in Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. In “Ethnic Variation in Gender-STEM Stereotypes and STEM Participation: An Intersectional Approach,” the authors analyze data from more than 1.7 million college freshmen between 1990 and 1999, finding that both black women and black men initially say they planned to major in STEM fields at higher rates than their white counterparts. Although black women were twice as likely to declare a major in a STEM field, more white women graduate with STEM degrees, prompting the authors to suggest that black women may face “unique barriers” in their pursuit, such as race-based stereotypes.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, which summarizes the article, notes that more research is needed to identify precisely which “unique barriers” create obstacles for black women hoping to obtain degrees in STEM-related fields. Read the article…

Report Urges Policymakers to Reinvest in Higher Education

As a result of deep cuts to higher education funding following the recession, issues surrounding affordability, access to programs and services, and quality could jeopardize the nation’s competitiveness. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that although a majority of states have begun to restore some of the cuts, 48 states are spending less per student than they did before the recession.

Tennessee Promises Free Community/Technical College Education

Tennessee legislators overwhelmingly approved Gov. Bill Haslam's cornerstone proposal for addressing affordability and accessibility issues plaguing higher education while at the same time making a substantial commitment toward future workforce preparedness: free community/technical college tuition. First unveiled in his February State of the State address, "Tennessee Promise" guarantees every graduating high school student may enjoy tuition-free attendance at any institution within the state's system of community colleges and colleges of applied technology.

State Performance-Based Funding Has Little Effect on Degree Completion

Efforts to make university funding dependent on performance outputs have done little to increase degree completion rates, according to researchers from the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE). A WISCAPE study finds that state initaitives to make university funding dependent on number of degree completions, student retention, job placement and other factors have had little to no effect on associate or baccalaureate degree completions. The researchers recommend further investigation into alternative evidence-based methods to improve public-university performance. Download the brief...


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