Last Updated: 09/18/2013*
A Chinese proverb says, “If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”
That’s the message author Gary Beach is hoping to convey in his new book, “The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America’s Future.”
In the book, Beach, publisher emeritus of CIO Magazine, says the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education problem needs to be solved because it’s essential for global competitiveness. He highlights Raytheon’s MathMovesU program as an example of how corporations can get involved.
“The STEM crisis is our nation’s quiet crisis,” Beach said in a sit-down interview. “It’s not in your face, but it’s there, and it’s everywhere.”
U.S. students rank 32nd in the world in math, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. More than 93 percent of employers report an overall skills gap – the difference between existing and desired skill levels – among their information technology (IT) staff, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association.
Author and technology expert Gary Beach
After six years of research, Beach proposes in his book that if America aims to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world, the current education system that supports a 19th-century, agrarian/manufacturing-based economy needs seismic improvements.
“I worry that when America’s current 15-year-olds are in their sweet spot for their careers, they’re going to be so far behind the pack,” Beach said. “We’re seeing this quiet crisis now affect the workforce. We can’t recruit or sustain, and that’s why this crisis is so big.”
As the global economy continues innovating, technology executives must know that America’s future lies in the hands of the next generation of students, Beach said.
To compete internationally, students must be able to successfully thrive in a 21st-century workforce with not only strong math scores, but also in what Beach calls the 5C’s – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity and confidence.
“A nation whose citizens excel in the 5C’s, but not math and science, is a nation of liberal arts majors,” Beach writes. “A nation of math and science wizards who can’t think, communicate, collaborate or create, is a nation of machines. The successful countries of the 21st century will, and must, do both well.”
Many companies and nonprofits nationwide, including Raytheon, understand the impact of an undereducated 21st-century workforce, according to Beach.
“We need a revolution,” Beach said. “We need information technology professionals to turn up the decibel levels.”
Beach highlights MathMovesU as one corporate initiative aimed at promoting education and exciting middle school students about science, technology, engineering and math careers.
In his two-page spotlight about MathMovesU, he tells why components such as the traveling MathAlive! exhibit, Sum of all Thrills™ ride experience, student and teacher scholarships and employee volunteerism make MathMovesU an engaging program.
“Raytheon’s MathMovesU initiative does an extraordinary job making a potentially boring subject like math exciting,” Beach writes. “Raytheon’s example of broad-based commitment to improving STEM education in America should be an inspiration to every reader of this book. MathMovesU is one of the best programs in the country, if not in fact the best.”
In the book, Beach details his top 10 recommendations for reform, which include three strategic ideas: Create a long-term national education strategy, determine accountability for the national education strategy and generate a nation of innovators. The seven other recommendations, including hiring the best teachers and creating 50 state education trust funds, are tactics to implement the overall strategy.
While implementing any decisions and changes may take up to 30 years or more, Beach notes, America must remain resilient.
“Every person has a stake in improving our public education system,” Beach said. “It’s all about a stronger economy, more employable workforce and national security.”
Raytheon is making Beach’s book available to all of its employees through its internal electronic publications service, Books 24x7.
Gary Beach’s Top 10 Recommendations for Action
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The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America’s Future
New York Times Profile about Gary Beach:
“A Tech Veteran Takes on the Skills Gap”
“The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way” by Amanda Ripley
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