MBR's Education Task Force
Championing STEM
Tapping Massachusetts’ Potential: The Massachusetts Employers’ STEM Agenda Report    |    Overview

Roundtable Joins in Launching Massachusetts Business Coalition on Skills
Opportunity to Join Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Education and Care Remains Top Priority for Roundtable Members
Roundtable Joins Business Community Call for Education Spending Plans to Help Close Achievement Gaps
Roundtable Testifies in Support of Career Technical Education Legislation
Testimony in support of H.3756 An Act to Increase Student Access to Career Technical Education Schools and Programs Aligned with Regional Labor Market Needs
Roundtable Submits Testimony Supporting Education Funding and Accountability
MBR Sponsors STEM Workforce Challenge Event with Mass Insight, the STEM Advisory Council, Mass Business Alliance for Education & State House News
Joint Committee on Education: Testimony on School Finance Legislation
MBR Sponsors STEM Summit November 14th in Worcester
Roundtable Supports Digital Innovation Grant
Roundtable Members Cover All the Bases during iRobot’s STEM Career Fair at Fenway Park
Massachusetts' Plan for Excellence in STEM Education
Massachusetts STEM Summit
Department of Higher Education's STEM Pipeline Fund

Roundtable Advocates for Workforce Development and Expanding Vocational Education in Economic Recovery Bill
Joint Committee on Education Early Education and Care Oversight Hearing

Education and Workforce Development
Talent—the state’s highly educated workforce—is our top competitive advantage. It is also the policy priority most often cited by Roundtable members as the key determinant of location and expansion decisions, as well as the state and region’s long-term competitiveness. To remain competitive, employers must be confident in their ability to find skilled and trained talent today and assured that the education and workforce pipeline is producing the workers of tomorrow.

Business leaders recognize there is a disconnect between the skills that students are graduating with and the skills employers need in hiring, particularly in the STEM fields. Some are partnering directly with education institutions to ensure a ready pipeline of trained workers. Yet all are looking for skilled workers, as well as well-rounded employees who can read, write and communicate effectively, who engage in civic life and who present themselves professionally.

The Education & Workforce Development Task Force adopted the following principles to guide and prioritize the Roundtable’s public policy engagement and advocacy:

  • Education and Workforce Development Systems Must Align with the Needs of Employers Across Massachusetts. Roundtable members consistently cite the highly skilled talent of the state’s workforce as the single most important competitive advantage enabling the Commonwealth to compete effectively in the global economy. Yet in a recent survey of business leaders from across the Commonwealth, 75% indicate that they can’t find talent with the skills necessary to fill open jobs. The state’s education and workforce development systems must produce a pipeline of graduates with skills that align with the current and future needs of employers. The state must partner with industry in establishing clear, measurable goals that ensure the workforce system is meeting demand. Better utilization of available data and analytical tools will strengthen collaboration and strategic partnerships with industry.
  • A Robust STEM Workforce Pipeline is Essential for Short- and Long-Term Competitiveness. For the education and workforce development pipeline to produce enough workers skilled in STEM competencies to meet employer demands, multiple options must be available to provide students with inspiring, real-life experiences to enhance their education. While Massachusetts school performance in STEM subjects remains high when compared to U.S. and global peers, the percentage of Massachusetts student interested in studying STEM at the collegiate level remains only 41%. Solutions must include early exposure to STEM careers that are positioned in ways that excite the next generation, especially females and underrepresented minorities. Further opportunities include internships, non-college pathways such as vocational and technical education and early college high school, as well as traditional programs at two and four year colleges. In addition, students should be exposed to mentors throughout their education so they can see and experience, from professionals, what they are learning about. These strategies are essential for all students, and are particularly effective in inspiring students and attracting underrepresented groups such as minorities and girls to STEM fields.
  • Early Childhood Education Provides the Foundation for Later Learning and Success. Research shows that participation in high-quality, pre-K programs increases a child’s likelihood of graduating from high school, graduating from college and being employed. If children start school ready to learn, they are twice as likely to read at grade level by age 8. If children read at grade level by age 8, they are four times more likely to graduate from high school. Those who participate in high quality early childhood programs are twice as likely to attend college. In other words, quality early childhood education increases the talent pool available to meet employers’ workforce needs. The Commonwealth should make access to high quality early childhood education a priority not only for the benefit of our children, but also because it is a workforce issue, an economic development issue and a business imperative.
  • Partnerships Between Business and Education Provide Innovative Models for Workforce Development. While students receive a high quality education in Massachusetts, there remains a persistent gap between what businesses seek in new employees and the set of skills that schools are imparting. To close this gap, a number of businesses are creating partnerships directly with educational intuitions. These partnerships allow businesses to have a larger stake in shaping the Massachusetts talent pool. Businesses across all different industries, including healthcare, technology, financial services, professional services, energy, defense, and real estate development and construction, are collaborating with schools to create mutually beneficial partnerships. Experiential learning opportunities are critical components of these partnerships. Integrating work into education, through co-ops, apprenticeships, job shadowing, internships and externships, and after school clubs and programs, provide successful examples of this model. In short, employers are helping to create a pipeline of workers who have the skills and interests that they seek.
  • Applied Skills and Workplace Skills are Essential for Professional Success. Technical skills are necessary for certain jobs, but employers are equally as concerned about applied skills—skills needed to succeed in the workplace—and new graduates’ lack of preparation for a professional environment. These basic skills range from the simplest academic skills, such as reading, writing, and math, to higher-order skills like teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking, to workplace skills like dependability, planning and organizing, and professionalism in the workplace. As state public policy is developed to improve the education system, emphasis should be placed on developing students’ applied skills such as communication, problem solving and teamwork.

Policy Priorities

  • Early Childhood Education. Advocate for implementation of recommendations in the report issued by House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s Business Advisory Group on Early Childhood Education, with a focus on stabilizing the early education and care system while focusing on workforce development for providers.
  • STEM. Actively engage in the state’s STEM Council, particularly in the areas of early college high school career pathways, workplace learning opportunities, and computer science education.
  • Workforce Pipeline. Advance workforce solutions through the state’s Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund and Learn-To-Earn initiatives that support career pathways aligned with job training, economic development and higher education systems to help workers at all skill levels find jobs.
    Partnerships. Promote high value education and workforce development partnerships at Roundtable member companies to showcase best practices from the private sector; publish the findings of the UMass Center for Collaborative Leadership team’s review of the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund.

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