If companies want workers down the line, they should help educate them
Innovation and productivity are the two key enablers of every successful economy, both of which rely on skilled people working in jobs that fuel a nation's long term health and wealth. America has always been blessed with innovative and productive people, but today uncertainty is dampening that spirit. That is because the issue of jobs is very real for the more than nine percent of unemployed, for the underemployed, for recent or soon-to-be college graduates looking for their first starting role -- anyone for whom the promise of a good-paying, personally satisfying job seems much less certain than it did just five years ago.
But from another perspective, jobs are also an issue for U.S. employers that have a need for talented employees but find an insufficient supply of candidates with the requisite skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to help them compete in the digital world. Though it is a global economy, one requiring a globally talented workforce, America plays a critical role as a primary innovator and engine of growth in the 21st Century, and STEM education is at the core of what it will take to fuel America's innovation engine.
Recognizing this situation, government, private enterprises and leading civic organizations and foundations are calling for graduating more engineers from American colleges and universities, and with good reason: STEM competency is critical to improving American employment and income.
As a technologist and employer, I understand well the challenge described by Dr. Abella. Paradoxically, with unemployment levels at their highest in 30 years, I and my peers have positions we are challenged to fill. Why? Because the skills we need are highly specialized; they are new skills that didn't exist just a few years ago, with titles like cloud architect and data scientist, reflective of the pace of innovation in today's digital economy.
There is a long and rich history of industrialists investing in the creation of new schools and innovative curricula with the specific purpose of training students able to meet the needs of growing industries. Some of our country's most renowned educational institutions, such as
To help satisfy our thirst for talented people in the short term, we can and do spend a great deal of time and money training technology professionals to master the specialized skills that are needed to provide the technologies and services our customers expect of us. At EMC I have overseen the development of a growing worldwide academic alliance that works with more than 600 colleges and universities in more than 40 countries across the globe to train people interested in acquiring specialized and sought after competencies. Such approaches may help a single organization, but they are not nearly enough to make a difference on a national scale.
To ensure a steadily growing pipeline of students to fill our colleges and universities, successful companies and industries must do a better job investing in our local communities at the K-12 level designing, equipping, and staffing innovative programs like VEX Robotics and Citizen Schools that create a passion for STEM by giving our children hands-on experience with STEM-based problem solving. Industry must also work with civic-minded organizations, like Change the Equation, the
We must help young students visualize themselves in exciting, STEM-based careers and remind them that it is individuals with STEM skills that dream of, develop, engineer and produce the great products and services that we rely on in our everyday life. Private industry has both the need and capability to take a leadership position in the development of students with STEM competence who will be the highly skilled work force of tomorrow.
Cooperation between government at all levels, educational institutions, community organizations, and businesses and industry is more than just the right thing to do - it's an imperative for America to maintain its standing as the most prosperous nation in the world. But it is incumbent upon business and industry to take the lead, investing our time and resources to ensure we once again have an abundance of innovative, productive people working and propelling our economy forward.
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