Maine State Chamber, Maine Mathematics & Science Alliance, and Science is US release policy guidelines to boost STEM education and workforce
This week, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Mathematics & Science Alliance (MMSA), and Science is US released a set of policy recommendations to help bolster the state’s STEM education and workforce and to encourage policymakers to reprioritize science and engineering. The policies complement and support the Maine Economic Development Strategy and its focus on talent and innovation as a pathway to the state’s economic development and growth. The full policy guidelines can be found here.
The policy recommendations were developed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Science is US, and government, industry, and academic leaders in the state as part of a science and engineering workforce roundtable series during the past year. The guidelines aim to inform key policy decisions in the state to strengthen Maine’s investment in science and engineering.
Recent data shows that while STEM sector jobs are outpacing non-STEM fields nationally, Maine lags in developing a workforce for science and engineering jobs. Data also shows that Maine’s research and development investment is less than 1% of GDP, compared to a regional average of about 4%. To bridge these gaps, policies that invest in science and engineering from early education to workforce should be implemented.
Key policy recommendations for Maine include:
"The future of Maine's STEM workforce is rapidly evolving, as are the skills the youth of today will need to be successful in that workforce. Maine's education sector is working hard to integrate learning those transferable skills into classroom experiences today for youth. This is a new and challenging role for K-12 educators today and they need the supports, materials, training and connections to community STEM leaders to make STEM workforce readiness a reality,” said Ruth Kermish-Allen, Ph.D., executive director of the Maine Mathematics & Science Alliance.
“STEM jobs provide significant opportunity to individuals, families and communities—and are the cornerstone of economic growth and innovation in Maine. These policy guidelines are intended to help ensure that Maine’s workforce is positioned to capitalize on the future growth STEM can provide,” said Rachel Kerestes, executive director of Science is US.
“As state policy makers look to address multiple issues that are key to growing Maine’s economy and workforce, further investments in R&D and STEM education are important priority areas,” said Maine State Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dana Connors. “The recommendations in this report provide helpful direction and guidance for Maine to advance STEM education and a stronger workforce to stay competitive regionally, nationally, and in the global economy.”
“STEM education and workforce preparation have never been more important to Maine’s future and the state has never been better positioned to engage students at all stages in high-impact, hands-on STEM learning and skill development that prepares them and our economy for success,” said University of Maine President and University of Maine System Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “We look forward to partnering with Maine’s PK–12 schools, industry and policymakers to advance these comprehensive policy recommendations—which leverage both generous STEM-related investment in our public universities by the Harold Alfond Foundation and the recent designation of UMaine as an R1 top-tier research university—to produce the next generation of world-class leaders, innovators and problem solvers.”