Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices is awarding Washington state a $170,000 grant to support the governor’s efforts to bolster science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) and launch his STEM Education Innovation Alliance.
The NGA grant will enable the Alliance to convene statewide summits, develop an action plan that aligns education and workforce resources, and develop a STEM report card and dashboard to monitor progress on key STEM efforts. In addition, the NGA is providing staff support from its Policy Academy. Inslee is tapping Dr. Gene Sharratt, Executive Director of the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), to oversee implementation of the grant programs and convening of the STEM Alliance in close collaboration with the governor’s office and Washington STEM.
“STEM-based industries such as computer science, aerospace, agriculture, clean energy, life sciences and advanced manufacturing are the backbone of our state’s innovation economy,” said Inslee, whose top education priorities are linked to several STEM goals. “But we can’t take these industries for granted. We need to make sure our education system is keeping students ahead of the curve and providing employers access to a world-class workforce. This grant funding will help us do that.”
“There are a lot of businesses in Washington ready to hire people with exceptional math and science skills, and what could be better than growing our own talent?” said Maud Daudon, President & CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “Our current education system is not keeping up with employers’ needs. The governor’s STEM efforts are a good step forward in bringing together the people, the resources, and the political will to make exciting changes in how we educate students and support educators and businesses.”
The STEM Education Innovation Alliance was approved by the Legislature last year and was one of Gov. Inslee’s top legislative priorities. The Alliance will bring together a wide range of business and education leaders who want to partner together in helping more students acquire the STEM skills and education that Washington employers are looking for.
A 2013 report by the Washington Roundtable, an organization representing business and industry leaders, revealed 25,000 unfilled jobs in Washington due to lack of qualified candidates. Eighty percent of those jobs were in high-demand and STEM fields like computer science and engineering. That gap is expected to grow.
Washington is one of only 14 states to receive NGA STEM grant funding. The grant application included letters of support from more than 13 industry, business, government and education organizations.