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The CTE-STEM Employer Coalition

In addition to operating the Oregon Learns initiative, the Oregon Business Council also provides staff support to the Oregon CTE-STEM Employer Coalition. This is a group of approximately 50 business employers with significant needs for employees with CTE- and STEM-related skills. Since its formation in 2012 the Coalition has advocated successfully for greater public support for CTE and STEM education. Learn more.

CTE and STEM Close Important Gaps

Career Technical Education (CTE) and education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) address some of Oregon’s most pressing educational and community needs. CTE and STEM education raise our prospects to improve the career opportunities of the young, to make learning more engaging, to fill growing job openings for a tech-savvy work force, and to reduce the state’s higher-than-average poverty rate.

Both existing and emerging technologies are creating a wealth of employment opportunities for Oregonians who have acquired the requisite skills. Although these opportunities are coming from technology industries, as expected, they are also a part of more traditional sectors such as food processing, agriculture, and manufacturing, where the latest technologies are incorporated in operations.

For students, CTE and STEM courses have the potential to fire engagement through hands-on, and often real-life, learning. Besides teaching subject knowledge, they lend themselves to inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving, and other capabilities valuable in life and work.

Most of the new jobs created by Oregon’s growing economy are related to science and technology, and that’s part of a trend expected to continue. That’s good new because most of these jobs pay well above the state’s average family income and have a simultaneous impact on increasing per capita income and reducing poverty. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure that all students, but particularly students historically marginalized, have access to CTE and STEM education—and that they do well in these studies.

Unfortunately, there is a growing disconnect between the demand for skills and talent in Oregon’s economy and the number of young Oregonians emerging from our education system who possess such skills and talent, especially in the STEM disciplines. By 2020, our economy will have almost 40,000 new job openings per year in STEM-related fields, and 94 percent of those will require a postsecondary credential.

Oregon’s Response

In recent years, Oregon policy makers have directed increasing attention and resources to CTE and STEM education. For example, in 2012 the state created a statewide network of regional STEM Hubs and forged stronger industry partnerships.

In 2013, the Legislature establishing the STEM Investment Council. to 1) double the number of 4th and 8th grade students proficient in math and science by 2025 and 2) double the number of CTE-STEM degrees and certificates by 2025. In addition the Legislature allocated $8.5M to fund six regional STEM Hubs, model STEM Lab Schools, and a suite of STEM/STEAM/CTE grants focused on historically underserved and underrepresented students.

In 2015 the Legislature created the Oregon Talent Council (successor to ETIC, the Engineering & Technology Industry Council) to help state agencies and education institutions develop talent to meet the growth and competitive needs of Oregon’s traded sector and high-growth industries. This coherent set of policies and strategic actions seeks to address the state’s full education and workforce continuum.

The 2015 Legislature also more than doubled funding for CTE and STEM education (from $17 million to $35 million), and it allocated $6 million for the Oregon Talent Council,  Included in the package is a new funding model to award additional dollars to high schools for students completing a sequence of career technical education courses, with special emphasis on under-represented students.

Besides teaching subject knowledge, CTE and STEM courses lend themselves to inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving, and other capabilities valuable in life and work.