Guest Blog: Empowering Communities through STEM Job Training and After School Programs
This is a post in the STEMconnector™ Guest Blog Series featuring Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. Marc will be speaking on our National Town Hall: Workforce Planning to Fill the STEM Jobs Pipeline on May 2nd at 2PM Eastern. Register for the call today.
When considering why STEM job training and academic programs are so important for community and economic empowerment, here are a few facts to reflect on:
- By the year 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that more than half the U.S. population will be African-American, Latino or Asian.
- According to the Department of Labor (DOL), STEM-related fields will be the fastest growing occupations over the next decade, so American competitiveness depends on a world-class Science, Technology, and Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce.
- According to The State of Black America Equality Index, there is a 30-point difference in achievement between minority youth and their white peers in math and science. This performance gap is the biggest threat to minorities’ full participation in a global economy.
These realities are why we can no longer ignore the imperative to address this knowledge gap, and why we need to redouble our efforts to provide the skills and tools necessary for our young people to compete and succeed in the future. Our economic strength and national security depend on it.
For more than 100 years, the National Urban League has provided job training and educational services to millions of low-income minorities. Today, we are developing the next generation of workers through work readiness preparation, internships and on-the-job training to disconnected youth. We also are working to ensure African-Americans currently in the workforce or looking for work are competitive in securing STEM related jobs across the spectrum of skill levels through skills-building and placement programs.
In January 2012 the National Urban League released our “8 Point Plan to Educate, Employ, and Empower,” a blueprint calling for immediate national solutions to address economic readiness and competitiveness. A cornerstone of the plan is the improvement of after-school programs for minority youth, such as the Urban League’s Project Ready STEM program which provides academic support for middle and high school students in STEM courses and exposure to STEM degree programs and careers. We are hoping to replicate these programs through the Project Ready STEM Act (H.R. 4366), recently introduced in Congress by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11).
As a leader in programs, policy and research on improving the pipeline of minority STEM workers, the National Urban League will be engaged in a host of activities and events to highlight the importance of these skills in underserved communities. On May 2nd, I will join STEMConnector in a national town hall on workforce planning in STEM. Later that same day, NUL will join Time Warner Cable Research to launch a new report, Connecting the Dots: Linking Broadband Adoption to Job Creation and Job Competitiveness, a critical look at the adoption of new technologies and full participation of minority workers in the field. The National Urban League will also serve as a co-host of the US News and World Report STEM Summit June 27 – 29th in Dallas, TX.
Although 2050 is a generation away, the National Urban League believes the time is now to begin this most critical of national missions—preparing to take on and win the future.