Fixing the STEM Worker Shortage
Monday, August 08, 2016
If you ask any manager at a technical company, "What is the hardest thing to find?" the answer you are most likely to hear is this: "Enough highly skilled workers who can do the jobs we need to fill."
Job-hiring experts who gathered at the World Forum for FDI in San Diego earlier this year agreed that, when it comes to training and equipping the STEM workers of the future, America’s educational systems need to improve significantly.
“Education has to change,” said Michael Cunningham, chancellor and president of National University in San Diego. “Universities haven’t changed like the rest of the world. The rapid pace of change is getting ever faster. The adult student population is growing. Adult learners need to retool. Businesses and universities need to come together to figure out the competencies that are needed now and for the next 20 years.”
The rest of “The Coming Workforce Development Storm” panel, which was moderated by noted speaker and TV personality Ali Velshi, agreed. “We need a better system for preparing the workforce in high-tech fields,” said Mark Mahboubi, president of R&B Machine Inc., an Upland, California–based company that makes components for communications satellites. “Large companies like Lockheed Martin tend to get the STEM workers they need while smaller employers like me have to be more resourceful to find the engineers and rocket scientists that we need.”
The session, sponsored by the San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency, focused on workforce development solutions for growing companies.
Lee Matthews, plant manager for Sage Automotive Interiors in Greenville, South Carolina, said, “We work directly with the community colleges in South Carolina to set up mechatronics programs that are tailored to meet our needs. We are paying these students while they are still in school. It helps bridge the skills gap that does exist.”
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