On Monday, November 21st, the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council launched the MA STEM@WORK initiative, which is working to connect Massachusetts businesses with high school students to provide them with paid internships in jobs related to science, engineering, technology and math (STEM). The event featured Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Vertex President and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, Ann Klee, president of the GE Foundation, and a Vertex student intern and invited Massachusetts companies to hire high school students in STEM-related fields.
The MA STEM@WORK initiative is helping the STEM Advisory Council – co-chaired by Representative Kennedy, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and Dr. Jeffrey Leiden – meet its goal of increasing work-based learning experiences for young people. The Council is working with the Massachusetts School to Career Connecting Activities system to identify and develop STEM internship opportunities, with the goal of placing more high school students in STEM internships by Spring and Summer 2017.
As Representative Kennedy, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and Dr. Leiden wrote in an op ed for the Boston Globe:
Massachusetts has more open positions in these fields than employees to fill them, a void that threatens our economic drivers. Industry analysts and CEOs repeatedly identify this gap as the single greatest challenge facing the Commonwealth’s STEM economy.
Massachusetts isn’t alone. Across the country, states with strong technology, biotech, medical, and engineering economies struggle to provide employers with educated, work-ready employees. And STEM readiness has global implications: There is an international race to create a highly skilled workforce capable of driving an increasingly innovation-centered world… And that is why we’re making a simple but powerful ask of Massachusetts businesses: Hire at least one high school student for a STEM internship.
The initiative and its goals were also featured in the Boston Business Journal and State House News Service. Additionally, on Monday, December 19th, Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser toured FiveStar Companies, a company in New Bedford that manufactures medical instruments. Secretary Peyser announced that Five Star Companies and four other New Bedford area businesses – Southcoast Health System, Siemens, Lockheed Martin, and HTP Inc. – recently joined the program and will begin offering high school internships in the summer. You can read more about the SouthCoast-area participants at the New Bedford Standard Times.
To learn more about the MA STEM@WORK program or to participate, please contact Blair Brown, staff director at the STEM Advisory Council, at Blair.Brown@state.ma.us.