Educating our Workforce for Today's Jobs in Science and Technology


Publication: 2012-11-15

Source: Government Technology Review/Educating our Workforce for Today%27s Jobs in Science and Technology.pdf

Given today's fiscal constraints, a practical approach is required. Although additional resources are required to implement some recommendations, the focus is not on massive new funding but rather implementing strategic planning and tactical implementation of specific program recommendations and potential funding realignment. It is critical to invest in STEM programs, measure the outcomes and adjust methodologies based on those outcomes. Equally important is the requirement for structures and programs that recognize the need for a long-term commitment and infrastructure. Through these recommendations, and a strong and clear commitment to focus on this issue -- which is so critical to our national defense and future economic growth -- we can advance on the world stage as leaders in science, technology,engineering and mathematics.

Institute for Innovation's 2012 Quadrennial Government Technology Review: The Quadrennial Government Technology Review (QGTR) is an initiative through ACT-IAC's Institute for Innovation to provide senior government leaders with a discussion of some of the nation's most pressing challenges. Over 100 volunteers from government and industry provided input to the seven papers that comprise the QGTR. Recommendations are offered to provide ways that information technology can make a positive impact on these challenges. Information technology underpins virtually every federal program and agency mission. Increased efficiency and effectiveness is especially critical to mission support, especially at times of budget shortages. This paper provides background information and recommendations developed by a cross-section of ACT-IAC members and represents a non-vendor specific, non-partisan perspective. The papers may be found at


Name:Owen Ambur


Name:ACT-IAC Institute for Innovation


Established in 2011, the ACT-IAC Institute for Innovation was chartered to promote innovation in the delivery of government services and operations. It develops and delivers high-quality strategic advice that reflects cross-industry recommendations based on the consensus of experts from ACT-IAC's member companies and government liaisons. Through ethical collaborative discussion, the Institute recommends approaches to key issues affecting government where information technology can be or is a factor and a broad spectrum of perspectives is required.


  • ACT-IACAmerican Council for Technology -- Industry Advisory Council: The American Council for Technology (ACT) is a non-profit educational organization established by government leaders in 1979 to improve government through the efficient and innovative application of information technology. ACT was created to provide an objective and trusted forum for collaboration and education. In 1989, ACT established the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) to bring industry and government executives together to collaborate on IT issues of interest to the government. ACT-IAC is a unique, public-private partnership dedicated to helping government use technology to serve the public. The organization provides programs that facilitate communication, education and collaboration. Recognized as the premier collaborative forum in the government IT community, ACT-IAC has been called "a model of how government and industry can work together" and "the Switzerland of the government IT community." ACT-IAC welcomes the participation of all public and private organizations committed to improving the delivery of public services through the effective and efficient use of information technology.

  • Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was established by Congress on May 11, 1976, with a broad mandate to advise the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.

  • National Science and Technology Council (NSTC)Additionally, the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and its Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) coordinate federal programs and activities in support of STEM education.

  • Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM)CoSTEM addresses education and workforce policy issues; research and development efforts that focus on STEM education at the PreK-12, undergraduate, graduate and lifelong learning levels; and, current and projected STEM workforce needs, trends and issues. The CoSTEM also reviews federal STEM education activities and programs, coordinates STEM activities across the federal government and develops and implements a 5-year federal STEM strategic plan (in process).

  • STEM AgenciesCurrent federal government responses to the STEM challenges include specific programs at various federal agencies (Department of Education, National Space and Aeronautics Administration, National Science Foundation, etc.). These programs focus on assisting students in STEM fields to complete their post-secondary education and obtain jobs in the STEM fields, STEM awareness programs and programs that focus on the agencies STEM mission (e.g., the U.S. Navy robotics program or NASA's astronaut camp). Additionally, the federal government implements broad policy initiatives passed into law by Congress. These include such things as loan and grant programs and modifications to the tax code as incentives to business. Therefore, while a federal response to the STEM challenges we face does indeed exist, there is obviously more that can and should be done.

  • Department of Education

  • National Space and Aeronautics Administration

  • National Science Foundation

  • U.S. Navy

  • State STEM ProgramsThere are many state and local STEM programs that supplement the work being done at the federal level.

  • Local STEM Programs

  • Private CompaniesAdditionally, there are many private companies and non-profit organizations engaged in this work. No doubt many of these are producing benefits for program participants but these programs are at the macro, or national level.

  • Non-Profit Organizations

  • STEM LeaderWe need a STEM leader to launch a coordinated approach across all levels of government and key constituents. Today's lack of coordination, information sharing and shared vision leads to stove-piped solutions, inconsistent application, and poor measurement methodologies. Currently, we see numerous efforts at the local school district level. These programs are usually narrow in scope and duration. State programs have a different focus around curriculum, teacher certification or related issues. The federal government's role is that of STEM champion, drawing attention to the problem at the national level and coordinating the federal programs. Federal programs to date have been limited in scope with limited resources. Private organizations have also taken action and contribute in various ways to help solve the problem. Hence, we do not have a coordinated national response. Additionally, the STEM challenges may vary from one region of the country to another - one region may be focused around the bio-chemical fields, while in another it may be agriculture and in yet another, the high-technology field.

  • American PeopleThe American people need to understand the implications of the shortage of STEM-trained students on national defense and the economy. A coordinated campaign is required to galvanize support and launch a "national challenge" similar in breadth and scope to the physical fitness challenge of years ago. We must make STEM "cool" for students and job seekers. This requires a culture change, increased visibility and leadership.

  • Students

  • Job Seekers