Sci­ence & Technology Ca­reers

What is the Govern­ment Do­ing to En­cour­age In­ter­est?

The Washington Post Sunday - - TECH JOBS -

The Amer­i­can em­ploy­ment land­scape is chang­ing. The days of fol­low­ing in dad's foot­steps at the plant are over. As more peo­ple find that pre­vi­ously sta­ble jobs in man­u­fac­tur­ing and la­bor are dis­ap­pear­ing, the govern­ment is ex­pand­ing its ef­forts to in­ter­est job seekers in growth in­dus­tries like sci­ence and technology.

Through the Amer­i­can Re­cov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act (ARRA), the Depart­ment of La­bor (DOL) is in­vest­ing ap­prox­i­mately $220 mil­lion in sci­ence and tech train­ing. These grants work on the lo­cal level to fund skills train­ing pro­grams through com­mu­nity col­leges and ap­pren­tice­ship pro­grams. The Ch­e­sa­peake Area Con­sor­tium for Higher Ed­u­ca­tion mem­ber schools are us­ing ARRA grant money to fund a pro­gram to pro­vide cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in En­vi­ron­men­talTech­nol­ogy. This­pro­gram is tu­ition-free through fall of 2012.

“ One of the things we fo­cus on is skills trans­fer­abil­ity,” Trupo said.... The DOL has an ar­ray of tools avail­able for work­ers look­ing to pur­sue op­por­tu­ni­ties in tech and sci­ence. The “ mySkills, my­Fu­ture” tool, avail­able through the DOL’s Web site, helps job seekers de­ter­mine what in­dus­tries they should con­sider based on the skills they al­ready have.

ARRA grant money is be­ing used by lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties to fund sci­en­tific re­search and tech train­ing pro­grams. Ge­orge Washington Uni­ver­sity re­cently re­ceived a $4.6 mil­lion grant from the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices to launch a 12-month cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram to train IT health pro­fes­sion­als. Ad­di­tion­ally, Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity is us­ing an ARRA grant to build a new in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary teach­ing lab and re­search cen­ter in part­ner­ship with the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Stan­dards and Technology.

Job num­bers in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor are con­tin­u­ing to sink, dis­plac­ing thou­sands of work­ers. The tech in­dus­try added 30,200 jobs be­tween Jan­uary and June of 2010, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Bureau of La­bor and Statis­tics. The DOL is work­ing to in­ter­est dis­placed work­ers in re­train­ing pro­grams fo­cused on the sci­ence, technology, ed­u­ca­tion and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) fields.

“STEM ca­reers re­quire prob­lem solv­ing and crit­i­cal think­ing. These skills can­not be au­to­mated, and em­ployer de­mand for them is ex­pected to in­crease in the com­ing years,” Mike Trupo of the DOL said.

Dis­placed work­ers can over­look ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties in sci­ence and technology. Of­ten, it is be­cause they do not feel that their ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing qual­i­fies them for a job in sci­ence or tech. Many work­ers do not re­al­ize that ex­pe­ri­ence with ro­bot­ics or com­puter pro­grams that they have from pre­vi­ous jobs may help them tran­si­tion into growth in­dus­tries like high-tech man­u­fac­tur­ing or green en­ergy.

“One of the things we fo­cus on is skills trans­fer­abil­ity,” Trupo said. “What skills do I have that I can trans­fer into an­other in­dus­try?”

The DOL has an ar­ray of tools avail­able for work­ers look­ing to pur­sue op­por­tu­ni­ties in tech and sci­ence. The “mySkills, my­Fu­ture” tool, avail­able through the DOL’s Web site, helps job seekers de­ter­mine what in­dus­tries they should con­sider based on the skills they al­ready have.

In Mary­land, One-Stop Ca­reer Cen­ters, ad­min­is­tered by the Mary­land Depart­ment of La­bor, of­fer a va­ri­ety of re­sources. Through these cen­ters, job seekers have ac­cess to train­ing pro­grams, job list­ings and ca­reer coun­sel­ing. There is a cen­ter in ev­ery Mary­land county.

As the Amer­i­can em­ploy­ment land­scape changes, fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments are striv­ing to in­ter­est job seekers in pur­su­ing ca­reers in sci­ence and technology by pro­vid­ing re­sources, grants and train­ing in these fast grow­ing in­dus­tries.

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