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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that employment in Maine in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields grew 3.4 percent between 2017 and 2021, and that growth generated $6.5 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2021.
This is great momentum and evidence that more needs to be done to advance STEM jobs across all regions of our state. STEM careers take many forms and begin with positions such as computer science technicians and engineers, and continue all the way up the career ladder of scientists, laboratory technicians, and data analysts in fields as diverse as biology and finance. These are exciting, challenging and rewarding jobs. We need more of them in Maine.
Sowing the seeds of interest in these careers and raising the aspirations of Maine’s youth to pursue these high-paying STEM careers without having to leave the state must begin early with our students, and must continue throughout the middle and high school years.
There are two initiatives pending before the Maine legislature that seek modest investments to help students learn more about future STEM careers. The first is a proposal to support a statewide pilot program in STEM. The second is a bill Mobile STEM lab support For middle schools in our rural communities that are often underserved. Policymakers must support these efforts and unlock the great potential for more Maine students to pursue STEM studies and careers, which in turn will help Maine create the 21st century economy we all seek.
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