News Release

NSB releases policy companion statement on U.S. need for STEM-capable workforce

STEM education; Image Credit: Monkey Business Images/

Image Credit: Monkey Business Images/ (Credit and Larger Version)

February 1, 2018

Today, the National Science Board (NSB, Board) released its policy companion statement to Science and Engineering Indicators 2018, “Our nation’s future competitiveness relies on building a STEM-capable U.S. workforce.” The statement underscores the Board’s view that growing the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical for our economy and global competitiveness. It offers recommendations for strengthening a diverse STEM-capable U.S. workforce inclusive of all levels of education.

“STEM knowledge and skills are vital for our nation’s businesses to compete in today’s world, and for bringing better jobs and greater prosperity to every region of our country,” said Victor McCrary, NSB member and vice president for Research and Economic Development at Morgan State University. “Businesses large and small across the U.S. need adaptable, STEM-capable workers at every education level and from all demographic groups in order to be competitive. Creating a strong, diverse STEM-ready workforce is essential to economic and social prosperity and we all have a role to play in this critical effort.”

According to the National Survey of College Graduates, the number of U.S. jobs that require substantial expertise in STEM has increased nearly 34 percent over the past decade.  While the number of Americans with a four-year degree in science and engineering (S&E) grew by 53 percent between 2000 and 2014; in China, this number increased by 360 percent. U.S leadership in global S&E is being challenged. The NSB’s statement reflects the Board’s strong conviction that a diverse STEM-capable U.S. workforce that leverages the talents of all segments of our population is more important than ever. It notes that we now live in a global economy where knowledge reigns, and so we must do all we can to ensure that our people can succeed and contribute to the well-being of our country.  

The new policy companion statement addresses the need to grow a STEM-capable U.S. workforce that leverages the talents of people at all education levels and in all sectors. It not only includes traditional scientists and engineers performing research in university, government, or industry labs, but also “skilled technical workers” who can install, repair, debug, and build, but do not have a four-year degree. This skilled technical workforce includes a large, diverse group of workers that are crucial components of almost every sector of the U.S. economy, from “blue collar” occupations--such as installation, maintenance, and repair--to healthcare and computer jobs.

In the early 1990s, the National Science Foundation (NSF) created the Advanced Technological Education program (ATE) targeted at strengthening the skilled technical workforce. To date, the program has awarded more than $950 million to 492 distinct institutions, with more than 65 percent of the awards going to two-year degree granting institutions.

In 2016, recognizing the need to enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering discovery, NSF launched the Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) program.  INCLUDES aims to expand the composition of the STEM-capable workforce by developing scalable ways to grow it by building new and strengthening existing partnerships. This is a comprehensive initiative that seeks and develops STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society.

The Board’s statement points out that STEM is not just for elite institutions or for researchers with advanced degrees--it’s for all Americans. Building the U.S. workforce of the future requires that all segments of our population have access to affordable, high-quality education and training opportunities beginning as early as kindergarten and lasting well beyond graduation. Sustaining this workforce will require cooperation and commitment from local, state, and federal governments, education institutions at all levels, non-governmental organizations, and businesses large and small.


About Indicators

Science and Engineering Indicators is the most comprehensive source of high quality federal data on a wide range of topics that include trends in global R&D investments and knowledge-intensive industries, K-12 and postsecondary STEM education, workforce trends and composition, state level comparisons, public attitudes and understanding, and invention, knowledge transfer and innovation. Related products -- including state fact sheets -- are available on the Indicators 2018 resource page.


About NSB

The National Science Board and the National Science Foundation's Director jointly head NSF. NSB identifies issues critical to NSF's future and establishes the Foundation's policies. The NSB also provides the President and Congress with Science and Engineering Indicators, a biennial report on U.S. progress in science and technology. Members are appointed by the President for six-year terms and selected for their eminence in research, education and records of distinguished service.




Media Contact:  Kim Silverman, NSB, 703-292-4515,

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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