STEM-ING the Skills Gap. Washingtons Community and Technical CollegesReport as inadecuate

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Washington could add as many as 110,000 new jobs by 2017 by closing skill gaps--the mismatch between the skills people have and those employers need, according to a March 2013 Washington Roundtable report. STEM professions face the most critical demand. Of the 25,000 jobs vacant for three months or more due to a shortage of qualified candidates, 80 percent are in high demand STEM and health care fields. Employers are desperate to find STEM workers, while job-seekers without STEM training are struggling to find work. Employers need multiple levels of STEM education, including short-term training certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees. Two-year colleges produce talented graduates at these levels. Students gain skills to enter STEM jobs directly, or transfer to a four-year university. For example, 24 of Washington's 34 community and technical colleges offer aerospace-related training. Twenty-eight offer registered nursing and 23 offer practical nursing. Two-year colleges train students for jobs in emerging fields: cyber security, nanotechnology, radiology, composites, and dozens of other STEM professions that drive Washington's economy. Students get precisely the training employers want and land good jobs when they finish. STEM students can move seamlessly from two-year colleges to four-year universities thanks to associate transfer degrees and agreements that allow credits to transfer in particular majors. Applied baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields are now available at several community and technical colleges. Students build onto their two-year degrees in fields such as radiation and imaging sciences, health care technology and management, nursing, and information systems and technology. Community and technical colleges are uniquely positioned to get training programs up and running in a matter of months, not years. Investing in community and technical colleges will help close the skills gap now.

Descriptors: Community Colleges, Technical Institutes, Two Year Colleges, STEM Education, Labor Supply, Labor Force Development, Job Skills, Employment Potential, Transfer of Training, Transfer Rates (College), Partnerships in Education, Advisory Committees, Job Training

Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. P.O. Box 42495, Olympia, WA 98504-2495. Tel: 360-704-4400; Fax: 360-704-4415; Web site:

Author: Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges


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