The STEM Education Caucus, along with special guests the STEM Education Coalition, National Association of Manufacturers, and American Council on Education held a briefing to discuss the ways in which colleges and universities are working with industry partners to prepare students for current and future STEM jobs. The briefing was hosted in the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee hearing room.
The Supply Chain Quality and Compliance Leader for GE Aviation Andrea Cox began the panel by explaining the skills gap created by the older experienced workers leaving their jobs and the new workers coming to GE who lack the expertise of the older workers. GE partnered with Northeastern University to set up a program for GE workers to hone their manufacturing skills while earning college credit. Kemi Jona, the Founding Director of Lowell School and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Northeastern University, detailed the way Northeastern and GE are working together to provide GE students with an educational opportunity that works specifically for these students who may not have time to go to a college campus to take courses. Through the Department of Education’s Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program, Northeastern set up instructional facilities on GE’s property, so workers can complete their shifts and go to class without having to commute.
Chris Lowery the Senior Vice President for Workforce Alignment at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana highlighted how Ivy Tech is creating programs based on what their economy needs the most. The Achieve Your Degree Program at Ivy Tech was initiated by employers to allow employees to pursue their education in relation to the work with tuition reimbursement. Mr. Lowery also discussed Ivy Tech’s efforts to expose more K-12 students to manufacturing opportunities through manufacturing summer camps and classes located on high school campuses.
Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL), co-chairs of the STEM Education Caucus, each gave remarks outlining the challenges employers in their districts are facing due to the lack of a STEM-trained technical workforce.