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Economic/Workforce Development

Recent years have seen much attention focus on preparing workers for the future high-tech economy, particularly in the STEM subjects science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Workers with solid backgrounds in these distinct, yet interrelated, fields are the true innovators in the emerging global information economy, and will become increasingly important assets to the United States in the 21st century. The bulk of the economic growth in the coming years is expected to be centered in the countries and regions within those countries where the workforce is most proficient in the STEM subjects. Ensuring a qualified supply of STEM-workers is also becoming increasingly essential for national security purposes.

Much of the enormous economic growth the United States enjoyed during the 20th century can be traced to its position as a leader in each of these fields, a position that for a variety of reasons is now being challenged in the early part of the 21st century. Developing countries like China and India have learned well from the past success of the United States and have made concerted national efforts to improve the number of their citizens graduating with degrees in the STEM fields. The global economy has the potential to greatly enhance the quality of life for people around the world, and clearly this potential should be embraced. The imperative in the coming years is that the citizens of the United States and policymakers within the states must determine quickly whether or not they want to continue to be leaders economic, technological and educational in this new world, and what steps they are willing to take toward ensuring this outcome.

This issue site provides examples of what states are doing, selected research and reading and relevant Web sites. The site is updated regularly, so please check back for the latest additions.


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