Filling The STEM Gap

2018-02-20T14:03:34+00:00 February 20, 2018|

What It Was

The House Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a hearing titled, “Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships for STEM Education and Careers.”

Why It Matters

Careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are a major contributor to the U.S. economy.  Every day we rely on technology, innovation, and science to carry out our daily lives, from checking the weather or texting your family to getting your flu shot or driving directions. There is a growing demand for a skilled and educated STEM workforce; however, there are not enough trained people to meet this need. Solutions are needed to bridge this gap.

Key Points

There was bipartisan agreement that STEM training is vital to our nation.

Experts testified about what is needed to fill the growing demand for qualified workers, including mentoring, training, and apprenticeship programs. Chairwoman Barbara Comstock (VA-10) noted that 20 percent of all jobs require some aspect of these skills.

All witnesses agreed that community colleges and apprenticeship programs have tremendous potential to fill the STEM gap.  Dr. Victor McCrary (Vice President, Division of Research and Economic Development, Morgan State University, and Member and Chair, Task Force on the Skilled Technical Workforce, National Science Board) pointed out the disconnect between businesses requiring a four-year degree when two-year or certification programs offer individuals experience that could make them more qualified.

Experts also emphasized the necessity of aligning workforce needs with skill training and how doing so would avoid graduating students into unemployment. Dr. John Bardo (President, Wichita State University) stressed the need to create training opportunities with working families and single parents in mind.


“Fulfilling our STEM research needs … is essential for economic competitiveness.” –Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21)

“To ensure our long-term economic health, we must continue to actively invest federal dollars in the long-term foundation on which our economy is built: research and development and human capital.” – Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (IL-3)

“Congress needs to make informed decisions on what are the most impactful and innovative tools to address the STEM skills gap and build up America’s skilled technical workforce.” – Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Comstock (VA-10)

“The voice of employers is imperative in educating individuals to industry standards and ensuring training programs are adequately preparing individuals for the workplace.” – Mr. Montez King (Executive director, National Institute of Metalworking Skills)

“There are so many people … who want to learn, who want to be a part of the economy, who want to be a part of STEM, but they don’t want to take on a 15-week course or they don’t want to take on a 120-hour degree.” – Dr. John Bardo (President, Wichita State University)

Next Steps

The hearing was for information gathering and was aimed at discovering STEM development tools, training effectiveness, barriers to education expansion, and data collection needs to better understand the gap.

Find Out More

Watch the full hearing

Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership