Task Force on the Skilled Technical Workforce (STW)

The National Science Board (NSB) Task Force on the Skilled Technical Workforce is charged with identifying the opportunities and challenges facing students, incumbent workers, businesses, educators, and others involved with the skilled technical workforce (STW) and recommending to the NSB strategies to strengthen the STW. Estimates suggest that there are over 16 million skilled technical jobs for workers with an associate degree, or similar level qualification, rather than a four-year degree.

The National Science Foundation’s mission includes a mandate to support science and engineering education programs at all levels and technical education and training at associate degree-granting colleges.

We invite you to explore NSB’s current and past work on the STW, including the 2015 report which called for building a STEM-capable U.S. workforce, our 2018 policy brief, listening sessions we’ve held with students, faculty, employers, and policymakers in different regions of the U.S., and other activities, including congressional testimony by STW Task Force Chair Victor McCrary.


NSB Skilled Technical Workforce Listening Sessions

NSB's Skilled Technical Workforce Task Force, participated in Baton Rouge Community College listening session, Oct. 26, 2017

NSB's Skilled Technical Workforce Task Force participated in Macomb Community College listening session, Apr. 19, 2018

Courtesy: Kim Silverman, National Science Foundation

NSB's Skilled Technical Workforce Task Force participated in Florence - Darlington Technical College listening session, Sept. 26, 2018


Congressional Activities

Victor McCrary, Chair of NSB's Skilled Technical Workforce Task Force, was on the Congressional Black Caucus Technology and Infrastructure Development Task Force panel on “Blue Collar STEM: The Future of the U.S. Workforce.”

Victor McCrary, Chair of NSB's Skilled Technical Workforce Task Force, testified before the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology on "Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships for STEM Education and Careers."



Victor McCrary, Chair of NSB's Skilled Technical Workforce Task Force, discusses the importance of the skilled technical workforce

Florence-Darlington Technical College's newscast of NSB's Skilled Technical Workforce Task Force listening session


Policy Statements

Courtesy: National Science Foundation

Our Nation's Future Competitiveness Relies on Building a Stem-Capable U.S. Workforce: A Policy Companion Statement to Science and Engineering Indicators 2018

The Task Force on the Skilled Technical Workforce will assess how the Board and Foundation might strengthen the STW in the United States. The Task Force may:

  • Identify and examine data on the STW, including data on technical occupations, training, career pathways and outcomes; identify gaps in the currently available data.
  • Consider strategies to leverage Science and Engineering Indicators (Indicators) and Indicators-related resources as a possible outlet for existing and new data on the STW.
  • Understand the incentives and barriers to pursuing skilled technical occupations, including:
    • Secondary school preparation in math and science
    • Alignment of training programs with local and high-priority industry needs
    • Human resources (HR) recruitment/hiring practices
    • Cost of and access to education and mid-career retraining
    • Mentoring
    • Students, parents, educators, and other stakeholders’ awareness and perception of these jobs
  • Identify strategies to enhance existing and foster new long-term partnerships among community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, local business, labor and industries, national laboratories, nonprofits, and relevant state and Federal agencies; identify strategies for leveraging these partnerships.
  • Explore opportunities to further leverage current NSF investments in STW specifically, and STEM education and human capital development broadly, including making undergraduate and graduate education more relevant and responsive to changes in the composition and needs of a globally competitive domestic workforce.
  • Identify strategies for the Board (full Board and standing committees) and NSF to strengthen the skilled technical workforce that do not require additional Federal appropriations.
  • Consider how technological change (e.g., automation) shapes the demands on the STW and the role that different education and training models play in enabling U.S. workers to adapt to these changes.
  • Explore how work on this dynamic and increasingly important segment of the STEM-capable workforce can inform current discussions around undergraduate and graduate education, including the growing importance of lifelong learning and discussions about the impact of skills and competencies assessments.

Chair: Dr. Victor “Vic” McCrary

Dr. Deborah Ball*
Dr. Vinton "Vint" Cerf*
Dr. Vicki Chandler
Dr. Robert "Bob" Groves
Dr. James Jackson
Dr. Carl Lineberger
Dr. Geraldine "Geri" Richmond*

NSBO Staff: Dr. Matthew Wilson
Dr. Reba Bandyopadhyay
Dr. Christina Maranto
Dr. Mateo Munoz


1Charge (NSB-2017-41) approved by the Board on November 9, 2017.
2See Fast Facts published by the American Association of Community Colleges, https://www.aacc.nche.edu/research-trends/fast-facts/.



*Members of the National Science Board whose terms have recently expired, temporarily serving as consultants to the Board.