In all of the industry forums I’ve attended, the STEM workforce is always noted as an issue, if not the top issue, on employers’ minds today. Our nation has an insatiable appetite for STEM employees — IT, biotech, aerospace, and even outdoor recreation — there is not an industry sector isolated from this issue.
While we can, and must, increase capacity at our colleges, universities and trade schools, that alone will not solve our long-term need. We need to strategically grow and sustain the pipeline of students interested in STEM — and we need to start early. Utah knows this, and Utah’s legislators understand that it is key to growing high-tech jobs in our state, and they support it.
In 2016, the STEM Action Center gave industry a way to put their money where their mouth is — the STEM Foundation. Endorsed and directed by the Utah legislature, the STEM Foundation was created to enhance the efforts of the state-funded STEM Action Center in its focus on K-12 programs to develop Utah’s future workforce. The Utah STEM Foundation accomplishes this by leveraging community partners, creating engagement and industry alignment, and through monetary and in-kind donations. After standing up the foundation and forming the board of directors in 2017, the STEM Foundation is fully functional and is actively looking for ways to work more effectively with Utah companies.
As Utah’s STEM Foundation Board Chair, I encourage you to seek ways to contribute towards a solution; and there are many ways that your organization can support the Utah STEM Foundation. This month, for example, National Engineer’s Week is February 18 to 24. This week is set aside nationally to recognize the impact engineers have on our world. We use this week to focus discussion on our national need for more STEM employees and highlight how exciting engineering and STEM careers are. It’s a great time to find your niche in our way forward.
Together, we can solve our STEM workforce needs. What role will you play?