Our recent skills gap report, Great Jobs Within Our Reach, took an in-depth look at the gap between the skills that workers in Washington have and the skills needed to fill a growing number of jobs in our state. There are currently 25,000 jobs that have been open for more than three months because employers can’t find qualified candidates. Washington has a leaky education pipeline and we need greater emphasis on the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math). We need to foster greater student interest in these subjects and encourage students to take advanced courses. Washington is on the cusp of taking an important step toward that end with a bill that passed the Senate this week, HB 1472, which allows students who take Advanced Placement computer science to receive credit in math or science (currently the course is considered an elective). This change will give students greater reason to take the advanced course and help increase STEM education in our high schools, which is an essential part of fixing our education pipeline and addressing the skills gap. Microsoft Director of Community Affairs Jane Broom has more about the bill and its importance in this blog post. And don’t forget the conclusion of our skills gap report, if Washington fills its skills gap, it will mean 160,000 jobs across many economic sectors by 2017. That’s a number worth hitting.