Voters Reject Research Tax in MO, Approve Higher Ed Bonds in ME

A measure to increase the sales tax in Jackson County, MO, to fund medical research across Kansas City and St. Louis was rejected by greater than a 5-to-1 ratio, reports the Kansas City Star. Unofficial returns found that 84 percent of voters rejected the proposal that would raise up to $40 million annually through a sales tax increase of one-half of 1 percent to support an institute of hospitals, universities and research institutes working to recruit scientists and turn research into commercial products and treatments. Voters in Maine approved $15.5 million in bonds to renovate and upgrade labs and other STEM facilities at all seven campuses within the University of Maine System and $4.5 million toward a public-private effort to build a science facility at Maine Maritime Academy.

Careers in Nanotech Goal of Latest Investments in NY, IL

A public-private investment of $1.5 billion to create a nanotech hub in upstate New York and a $250,000 educational investment in Illinois illustrate recent state efforts to elevate nanotechnology in workforce development. New York is putting $200 million toward the Nano Utica facility for purchasing new equipment. The initiative is being led by six global technology companies, and the facility will serve as a cleanroom and research hub for computer chip packaging and lithography development and commercialization. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently announced a $250,000 state investment for equipment to prepare high school students for careers in nanotechnology. The school receiving the funds also plans to incorporate nanotechnology programming within its STEM summer camp curriculum.

U.S. Workforce Lacks Skills to Compete in Global Economy, Survey Indicates

U.S. adults are less proficient in basic reading, math and problem-solving skills than many of their international counterparts, according to the first Survey of Adult Skills from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD found that, overall, U.S. adults possessed below average proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. In most of the countries included in the study, younger adults entering the workforce generally possessed better skills than older adults leaving the workforce, leading to better prepared labor pools over time. In the U.S., however, adults 55-65 years old performed at levels close to the international average, while younger adults ranked among the least skilled in the 24 countries surveyed.

Two Vying for Virginia Gov’s Office Tout Benefits of Biotech, STEM Workers

Only two states will hold gubernatorial elections this year: New Jersey and Virginia. But those states have garnered a great deal of media attention because of the candidates’ stark policy differences on a wide range of issues, including jobs and the economy. This week, SSTI takes a look at the plans for economic growth and higher education put forth by Virginia Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe and Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli.

SSTI Award Winners Blaze Onward: Library Space, STEM Grants and Tech Commercialization

On the heels of their big win last week in Portland, OR, SSTI’s 2013 Excellence in TBED award winners have announced more exciting news surrounding their programs’ impact and new initiatives to support regional growth strategies. This year’s winner for Most Promising TBED Initiative, ASU Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group (EIG), has attracted a new partner to expand on their model for entrepreneurial support by repurposing existing library space. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announced nearly $200,000 in grants for STEM education as they continue to improve the competitiveness of the life sciences sector, and in Utah, two impact reports have been released by partners of USTAR detailing progress made to expand research capacity.

Highlighting Women in Tech Could Help Diversify S&T Workforce, According to Study

Lack of female role models is a key deterrant for women cosnidering entry in S&T fields, according to a recent study. Sociology professor Dr. Catherine Riegle-Crumb of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas investigated why there are comparatively few women compared to men in technology and other STEM fields.

Governors’ Initiative Aims for Educated Workforce to Match States Needs

A new chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) also means a new challenge and opportunity to improve state economies. This week, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, newly elected NGA chair, announced a year-long initiative designed to improve the capacity and effectiveness of states’ education and workforce training systems and to align those needs with the needs of employers. The initiative kicks off with an intensive effort among six to eight states that will develop and implement a policy agenda to build and strengthen education and workforce training. Referring to a degree or certificate as the “new minimum” in order to gain access to opportunity, Gov. Fallin also hopes to elevate the importance of postsecondary education through the initiative. Read more about America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs

CA Universities Increase Online Learning Opportunities; Controversial Bill Held for 2014

With additional funding directed to higher education as part of the FY14 budget, the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems announced efforts to boost access to online courses for current full-time students this fall. The goal is to overcome space shortages in classrooms and help graduate more students on time. Meanwhile, a bill that would require the state’s colleges and universities to grant credit for online courses taken through for-profit groups, including providers of massive open online courses (MOOCs), is considered dead in the legislature for now. The bill’s main backer, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he is waiting to see the results of the new online efforts by the state’s public higher education systems before moving forward, reports Inside Higher Ed.

MN, ND, NE, RI Sponsor Internship Programs to Build Relationships Between Employers, Students

During this year’s legislative sessions, several states looked toward creating, providing support for or redesigning programs that help incentivize businesses to hire and mentor student interns. In an effort to spur rural internships, Minnesota lawmakers approved a new tax credit program to support internships for students in greater Minnesota. In North Dakota, lawmakers committed $1.5 million to their Operation Intern program, while Nebraska lawmakers updated their Intern Nebraska grant program to provide students with a high-quality internship experience. Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed a bill that will allow high school students (16 years and older) to engage in pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and internship experiences during school hours in approved manufacturing career and technical programs.

Many STEM Jobs Do Not Require Four-Year Degree, Brookings Reports

While policymakers often tout workers in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as a critical element of U.S. competitiveness in the global economy, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program claims that a narrow definition of STEM occupations neglects vital employees in these technical fields. In a recent report entitled The Hidden STEM Economy, the authors examined knowledge requirement scores for STEM fields obtained from O*NET (Occupational Information Network Data collection Program) to assess the knowledge, education, and wage needs of the various STEM occupations. They determined that redefining STEM occupations based on knowledge and skill requirements rather than solely educational requirements provided a more comprehensive understanding of the STEM economy and revealed that many economies across the nation benefit from the presence of non-professional, sub-bachelor degree STEM workers.


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