- Advocacy & Policy
- Research Center
February 04, 2010
America is no longer a nation at risk, rather it is a “nation falling further behind,” in science and engineering education said Rick Stephens, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Administration at The Boeing Company.
In testimony today before the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, Stephens highlighted the challenges facing the U.S. defense industrial base as it seeks to replenish the workforce with tens of thousands of engineers in the very near future.
“These are becoming difficult jobs to fill, not because there is a labor shortage but because there is a skills shortage,” Stephens said. “Our industry needs more innovative young scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians to replace baby boomers as they retire.”
Testifying on behalf of the Aerospace Industries Association, Stephens outlined proposals for Congress to strengthen undergraduate and graduate education in the STEM fields. Among these are encouraging and expanding retention programs for undergrads, addressing the critical shortage of well-qualified primary and secondary teachers in STEM disciplines and motivating pursuit of STEM careers through enhanced support of programs that provide hands-on experience that is directly transferable to the workplace.
Stephens chairs the AIA Workforce Steering Committee which is actively examining ways that the aerospace industry can strategically address STEM education, including coordination of STEM efforts within the industry, as well as coordinating with other industries such as information technology and health.
“If we in the United States hope to retain our nation’s leadership in science, technology and innovation, we must immediately address the looming STEM skills gap,” Stephens concluded.
Stephens’ full testimony can be viewed at www.aia-aerospace.org/newsroom/speeches_testimony/.
AIA interview with Richard Stephens (mp3 format)