The Roundtable works to effect positive change on public policy issues that are most important to supporting state economic vitality and fostering opportunity for all Washingtonians. That work includes sharing news and analyzing policy developments affecting our state.

Seattle Times Ed Lab tackles skills gap

The Seattle Times hits the nail on the head with coverage of our skills gap report in today’s Ed Lab blog post. From reporter Claudia Rowe

Complaints about the dearth of students graduating from high school with adequate math and science skills have been voiced so loudly, and for so long, that they threaten to fade into background noise. But the need is real, urgent and has implications that anyone can appreciate.

Rowe outlines some key findings from our 2013 report, “Great Jobs Within Our Reach.” Most notably the fact that  25,000 jobs that went unfilled in Washington state here last year — most in computer science, engineering and health care — because companies couldn’t find qualified candidates. By 2017, that gap is projected to grow to 50,000.  As Rowe writes…

The Washington Roundtable report, “Great Jobs Within Our Reach,” published last spring, was intended as a clarion call to educators and policymakers. It noted that if just 5 percent more public school graduates pursued computer science or engineering degrees, the pool of qualified employees here would increase by 3,000 annually.

On this front there are bright spots, schools taking active — and often very creative — approaches toward getting more students interested in math- and science-related subjects (commonly referred to as STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math). Education Lab found one in Eastern Washington where 100 percent of students are low-income, yet hundreds take engineering design, aerospace and biology courses.

At the same time, the school’s graduation rates have climbed above 90 percent. Curious? Stay tuned for our story in mid-June.

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