Voters agree the state should do more to expand career-connected learning opportunities

Ninety-four percent of Washington state voters agree students at every level should have access to career-connected learning opportunities like internships and youth apprenticeships and 90 percent say every child should have access to high-quality STEM education, according to a new statewide survey.

“Washington voters embrace a comprehensive approach to preparing our students in STEM, from career-connected learning to early education,” said Caroline King, chief executive officer at Washington STEM. “With leadership from Governor Inslee and bipartisan lawmakers, the legislature has the historic chance to take action this session to ensure all Washington state students, especially those furthest from opportunity, are prepared for the economic opportunities in our state”

King added that it’s important that the state has tools to measure impact, effectiveness and outcomes of policies so decision makers know what’s working and can spread those initiatives across the state.

Washington voters also agree the next generation of Washingtonians will have more opportunities if they have strong STEM skills and that STEM skills are in increasing demand in Washington state’s economy, however they are concerned the state isn’t doing enough to prepare students for these opportunities. Just 42 percent of voters are satisfied with the job Washington is doing preparing students for good jobs and opportunities in the state.

Lawmakers in Olympia are considering two bills with strong bipartisan sponsorship (HB 1336 and SB 5327) to address this concern by expanding career-connected learning opportunities. These include directing resources to apprenticeship programs for youth and support for regional leadership and coordination that connects industry and education. Eighty percent of voters agree that partnering with regional organizations that have local expertise ensures that students receive information about careers that are growing in different regions of the state.

“The strength of a regional partner on STEM education is it gives communities important information on the career connected learning opportunities that best serves students where they live,” said Meg Lindsay, director of the Spokane STEM Network and Director of Education and Talent at Greater Spokane Inc. “An on the ground approach moves progress further and get results faster for all youth to help reduce the STEM skills gap and improve the local and Washington state economy.” The Spokane STEM Network is comprised of more than 35 local partners and serves 77,407 students in the region.

Key findings from the statewide survey include:

90 percent agree every child should have access to a high-quality STEM education.

90 percent agree children should be exposed to early STEM concepts from a young age.

89 percent agree the next generation of Washingtonians will have more opportunities if they have strong STEM skills.

89 percent support expanding the number of K-12 public schools in Washington that offer computer science classes.

85 percent agree children who grew up in poverty have a better chance to break the cycle of poverty if they have a strong STEM education.

84 percent agree the state needs to do more to provide students and the public with information about fast growing, high paying jobs, including where they are located and the schooling and training requirements to get those jobs.

83 percent agree STEM skills are in increasing demand in Washington’s economy.

Strategies 360 conducted the statewide survey of 600 registered Washington voters from February 5-8, 2019. The margin of error for the survey is four percent.

About Washington STEM

Washington STEM is a statewide, independent nonprofit organization headquartered in Seattle, WA. Launched in 2011 and founded on the principles of equity, partnership, and sustainability, we seek smart, scalable solutions that lead to opportunities for those students most underserved and underrepresented in STEM fields. We believe that through a high-quality STEM education, Washington students will become the leaders, critical thinkers, and creators that will tackle the biggest challenges facing our state, nation, and the world.

The organization’s regional STEM Network partners from across the state, bring educators, business leaders, STEM professionals, and community leaders together to connect students with STEM career opportunities in their communities. STEM Networks bring real-world STEM learning experiences to students where they live so every student has the skills that are increasing in demand in the state.

For more information, go to www.washingtonstem.org

        – Washington STEM

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