The future of Washington jobs: science, technology, engineering and math | My Turn

Washington state is at the center of the high-tech industry. Companies like Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon offer our children endless opportunities. Even traditional blue-collar jobs like farming and manufacturing are becoming increasingly reliant on technology skills.

My concern is these in-demand jobs are currently being filled by recruits from around the nation and world, not our children. We are not producing enough trained graduates.

Washington jobs should go to Washington workers. We need to get children excited about science, technology, engineering and math (commonly referred to as STEM) at a young age and help them to develop a life-long passion for these subjects. We need to make STEM a focus at all levels of our education system.

Science and math are more than just algebra and chemistry formulas — we can get children started early with hands on learning. Robots, lasers, animals and other subjects that children naturally gravitate toward can be crafted into STEM-based lessons. Children have played with Legos for years. We must change our education methods so children can make the connection between fun toys and the science behind them in the real world. Make a child excited about robotics at an early age, give them the opportunities to learn and watch their passion for STEM subjects bloom.

Over the years, I have introduced legislation to strengthen STEM throughout our entire education system. This year through SB 5624 the legislature will fund the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges to work with the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop an articulated system K-12 through higher education in the STEM. SB 5624 would also provide funding to community and technical colleges to expand and offer applied baccalaureate programs that align with STEM fields.

The jobs of the future demand STEM education, and if we want our children to succeed and our middle class to thrive, we must create an educational system that takes a life-long approach to STEM education. From kindergarten through higher education, this system is one that will truly serve our children and their future. Preparing our children for global careers right here in Washington state and beyond is my No. 1 priority.

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell) represents the First Legislative District.


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