Washington companies are changing how we travel, protect human health and preserve the environment. The strength and breadth of that vitality depends on a strong higher education system and a skilled workforce. In an opinion piece for this week’s Puget Sound Business Journal, Steve Mullin urges lawmakers to keep higher education a priority. He writes, “A strong higher education system is the most powerful tool Washington has to ensure students get those much needed skills and to spread opportunity and shared prosperity.”
Washington’s award-winning universities and programs are hub of innovation and opportunity. But we can do better. Our state ranks 38th out of 50 in bachelor’s degrees awarded per capita. Precariously close to the bottom. Our goal is to be top 10. That’s how we prepare Washington students for great opportunities and foster a workforce that succeeds in the 21st century.
We have work to do. In 2013, twenty-five thousand jobs, concentrated in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), went unfilled because employers couldn’t find qualified candidates. That number is expected to double by 2017.
“Closing the skills gap and preparing Washington students for great opportunities requires our state to do more to protect, support and promote higher education,” said Mullin.