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STEM Experts Meet with Governors: 'It's a National Security Issue'

Several state governors met in Boston Thursday to discuss the need for schools to focus on science, technology, engineering and math — particularly computer science — to fill jobs that will otherwise have to be exported.

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker speaks about the state’s capital budget announcement at the Quincy Courthouse on May 5, 2022 in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald/TNS
(TNS) — Seven state governors met in Boston Thursday to hear from a panel of experts and educators on the importance of STEM education for their states and our nation’s future.

“It’s a national security issue for our country. Whether you are looking at the need for cybersecurity protection or you are looking at supply chain shortages, we have to have those that have a background in computer science coming out of our high schools that are looking for solutions for America,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters after hearing from the panel.

Hutchinson, chairman of the National Governors Association, joined by the governors of New Jersey, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Vermont, gathered at the Hotel Commonwealth, where the panel shared their experiences and their needs in a roundtable hosted by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The message from the experts, educators, and policymakers was clear: there is no future that does not include a need for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education.

“That’s our future, and we want every state to participate in that,” Hutchinson said.

The problem, according to Hutchinson, is that the demand for those so educated far outstrips supply.

“We have 550,000 open computing jobs in the United States of America. If we do not produce the talent to fill those jobs, then we’re going to have to bring them from overseas, or we’re going to have to ship our production overseas, and so it is a supply chain issue, a talent issue, it is a national security issue in that sense,” he said.

“STEM really is in all elements of our economy,” Baker followed. “The more we become digital — it’s pretty much everywhere.”

Baker said programs like Girls Who Code offer a solution.

“We do have work to do to make STEM attractive to both women and people of color,” he said. “This really is a space where everybody has to apply, everybody has to be a part of the game.”

The nonprofit operates more than 350 programs in the commonwealth, Baker said, and they are working, according to program facilitator Lori Cullen.

“I asked the seniors to share three things with us — your future plans, your favorite memory and what would you tell your freshman self today — and a student said ‘I would tell my freshman self to start a Girls Who Code club,'” she said.

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