We recently adopted a community goal of having 60 percent of adults in Spokane County having a credentialed, two-year degree or higher by 2025. Currently, that number hovers around 43 percent.
In order to reach that goal, the business community needs to play its part because businesses depend on the education sector for skilled employees. On Jan. 10, we hosted a Good Morning Greater Spokane program that focused on educational attainment. A panel of five students – four from high school and one recent local high school graduate who is now a college freshman – talked about their experience as a student at various schools in the region and why the business community can help people their age.
For instance, one student is getting hands-on engineering experience at Spokane Valley Tech. Another is involved in the Cyber Patriot program at Rogers High School and already met with local computer programmers and has an internship (as a high school student!) at Spokane Public Schools.
All panelists were from STEM-related programs at Spokane Valley Tech, Riverside Technical Academy, Rogers High School, Cheney High School and West Valley High School.
So how can your business connect with high school students?
Well, you can get involved with our various programs:
You can also speak in classrooms or host students through Access2Experience, an online-platform for the business and education communities. Think of it as Match.com for the two sectors.
Businesses can also work with schools around them to visit classrooms, talk to students, host tours, etc.
In the next 20 years, the number of jobs available in our state will outnumber the amount of qualified workers. STEM fields will have 45,000 jobs unfilled by 2017, according to Washington STEM. Those jobs tend to be good, high-paying jobs.
You might be thinking…..you know, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are great, but what about reading, writing and good communication skills?
Glad you asked.
One of the panelists, a current college freshman and graduate of West Valley High School in 2013, said she chose to go to a liberal arts college in order to gain those communication skills everybody needs. Spokane Valley Tech and the Riverpoint Academy – to name just two local examples – have classes where students practice public speaking and other communication skills. The STEM Education institutions understand all the skills students need to succeed.
Increasing educational attainment levels is important for the future of our economy and region. The business community should be doing all it can to ensure its future workforce is properly prepared.