STEM & Workforce Development

In just six short years the United States will have a deficit of 3 million college graduates and be unable to fill the talent needs the economy will demand.[1]  For America to compete in the 21st century economy we will need to develop and retain highly skilled workers.  This means the U.S. must produce more college graduates and retain more highly skilled international workers.  By 2018, 63 percent of all jobs in the United States will require a college education.[2]

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group believes the United States can grow the economy, create jobs, and develop and retain high quality talent- by prioritizing STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to develop domestic talent.

Why Developing and Retaining Talent is Important to Silicon Valley and the U.S.


It is crucial that the United States maintains its investment in STEM education.  Countries around the world are investing billions to train and educate their workforce to succeed in the 21st century economy.  American companies are moving abroad to find high quality talent.  Countries like India, China, Israel, and Singapore, along with regions such as Eastern Europe are simply the first wave of emerging countries rising to challenge America’s STEM supremacy.

Investments must be maintained to ensure that America improves its STEM performance.  At the end of 2010, the U.S. ranked 25th among 34 OECD countries on math performance.  China’s students placed 1st.  The U.S. did similarly poorly in science coming in 17th, exactly the middle of the pack.  Less than 15 percent of U.S. high school graduates have sufficient math and science preparation to begin pursuing a degree in engineering.  These troublesome figures have lead to a debilitating shortage of STEM degrees.  Each year 200,000 engineering jobs need to be filled in the United States and each year the United States only graduates 60,000 engineers to fill these jobs.  The shortage of engineering degrees is a major reason high tech jobs are moving overseas to places like India and China, which each graduate 600,000 engineers every year.

The Leadership Group is engaged in a number of programs and policy initiatives to improve U.S. competitiveness and job creation through investments in STEM education. Members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group individually devote millions of dollars to improving student performance in the STEM fields by supporting teacher professional development and bolstering college access. For example, members contribute more than $2 million annually to provide local teachers with paid summer fellowships that impact hundreds of teachers and thousands of students.  Moreover, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has launched a professional development initiative for math teachers and has formed a regional workforce coalition to help ensure that our local workforce is trained to meet the changing needs of industry.

STEM jobs also generate the technological changes that shape all other occupations.  Having the talent to fill these positions is essential to ensure growth.  Without the engineers, architects, computer scientists, mathematicians, life and physical scientists, and social scientists the United States will have difficulty growing its health, education, chemistry, space, biological, agricultural, infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, computer science and technology fields.  STEM jobs are the engine that will power the country out of recession.

[1] U.S. Department of Labor

[2] The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce