NGA Announces Support for Workforce Training Efforts in 14 States

The National Governor’s Association (NGA) announced that it will provide grants, technical assistance and opportunities to align education and training systems with private sector needs in 14 states. Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia have been selected to receive support to build industry and education partnerships and optimize their workforce-oriented incentives. Example uses of the support include the launch of the Washington STEM Education Innovation Alliance and continued support for Iowa’s workforce development programs.

Despite Growing Demand, Most STEM Graduates Work in Other Fields

About 74 percent of U.S. residents with a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are not employed in STEM occupations, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. While STEM graduates are less likely to be unemployed, they generally find careers outside of science and technology. As detailed in a recent SSTI Digest article, many employers are having difficulty filling STEM positions, with the average STEM job posting lasting twice as long as other jobs before being filled. An update to the ongoing Pathways to Prosperity project describes some successful efforts around the country in improving the pipeline of students headed into STEM jobs.

Number of U.S. STEM Graduates Grows, But Workforce Skills Not Keeping Pace with Demand

STEM degrees lead to higher salaries and more employment opportunities than other degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Despite these economic advantages, only 16 percent of 2008 graduates received a STEM degree. The lack of workers with STEM skills has created a difficult hiring environment for many U.S. firms. A recent Brookings Institution study reveals that the lack of STEM graduates has meant that STEM job postings take twice as long to fill as other postings.

U.S. S&E Graduate Enrollment Steady While Foreign Enrollment Rises, NSF Reports

In 2012, U.S. science and engineering graduate programs saw a small 1.7 percent drop in enrollment by U.S. citizens and permanent residents, according to data from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Enrollment by foreign students, however, rose by 4.3 percent. NSF notes that 2012 is the second year in a row that saw very little increase in citizen enrollment, following five years of growth in the range of 2-3 percent. Enrollment by female graduate students, who make up about 43 percent of the total graduate student population, decreased by 0.1 percent, the first decline for that group in 10 years. Strong growth in a few engineering fields, including chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and materials engineering, led to a rebound in overall engineering enrollment following a decline the previous year. Read the report…

OSTP Estimates STEM Spending in Proposed FY15 Budget Totals $2.9B

A progress report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) provides a useful overview of the Obama administration’s ongoing STEM efforts and the roster of STEM initiatives included in the president’s FY15 budget request. Under the proposed budget, federal spending on STEM education would reach $2.9 billion in FY15, a 3.7 percent increase over FY14 funding as enacted. The largest agency increases would come from the Department of Education, which would receive $658 million (35.7 percent increase) with support for a new STEM Innovation Networks program, and the Department of Transportation, which would receive $100 million with funding for a University Transportation Centers Program (16.3 percent increase).  Read the report…

Detroit, Pittsburgh Boast Tech Economy Gains

Groups in the greater Detroit and Pittsburgh regions recently released reports documenting the progress these metros have made over the past few years in building thriving technology economies. Detroit’s Automation Alley found that tech industry employment in the region grew by 15 percent in 2011, outpacing growth in all of the other 14 regions used as benchmarks in the study. A report on Pittsburgh’s investment economy, conducted by Ernst & Young LLP and Innovation Works, shows the region to have grown its per capita venture capital investment levels by 34.6 percent during the 2009-2013 period.

NY Budget Advances State’s Research, High-Tech Agenda

Many of the proposals put forth by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for growing New York’s innovation economy were fulfilled or received ongoing support in the enacted FY15 budget. This includes a final installment of $680 million to complete the Buffalo Billion initiative, new rounds of funding for the Regional Economic Development Councils, SUNY and CUNY challenge grants, and tax breaks for manufacturers. Lawmakers also approved funding for a new genomic medicine network and STEM scholarship program.

States Pass Innovation-Focused Legislation

Investments and policy to support innovation-focused agendas have flourished with the close of the 2014 legislative sessions in several states. Crowdfunding legislation, incentives for attracting talent, higher education affordability, punishing patent trolls, and encouraging greater accountability are some of the areas where lawmakers focused their efforts.

$20M for STEM Action Center in UT Budget; More Oversight for USTAR

Increased scrutiny for public investments has grown in recent years amid tight budget conditions. Returns on innovation-focused efforts often take time, and as a result TBED groups are always looking to improve metrics and reporting to meet greater demand for transparency. In Utah, lawmakers recently passed a bill providing more oversight for the state’s signature innovation-capacity building program following a critical audit last year. At the same time, lawmakers continued to embrace the concept of the agency they established eight years prior, and appropriated level funds to continue USTAR’s efforts in research and commercialization. The legislature also passed a bill dedicating $20 million to the STEM Action Center created last session.  

Tech Talkin’ Govs: Part VI

The sixth installment of SSTI’s Tech Talkin’ Govs series includes excerpts from speeches delivered in New Hampshire and Wyoming. Read part I, part II, part III, part IV and part V.   


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