Posted by Pamela Passman
Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs
Today, President Obama is announcing “Educate to Innovate,” a national initiative aimed at inspiring students to develop the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills that will help them become the problem solvers of tomorrow. The future of our nation’s economic competitiveness is directly related to the ability of our young people to use such skills to innovate across a range of fields, including IT, manufacturing, energy and health care.
Now more than ever, all students need specialized knowledge to succeed in our complex, technologically advanced and globally competitive world. The vast majority of family-wage jobs in the 21st century will require employees with technical skills and an aptitude for life-long learning.
Across the U.S., student performance on international math and science benchmarks lags behind that of their peers from other nations such as England, China and Japan. The disparities are even greater for low-income and minority students. To maintain America’s competitiveness in rapidly growing, technology-dependent industries, we must work especially hard to encourage young women and minority students that their contributions are needed and valued in science and technology fields. Expanding the base of students interested in STEM throughout our society is not only a matter of ensuring that all young people have access to economic opportunities, but also a business imperative if the U.S. economy is to grow and prosper.
It’s not just our education system that needs to do better. We also need leadership, commitment, resources and hard work from government and business to put our kids back on top. That is why we applaud President Obama for making STEM education a national priority. We look forward to working with the administration and our colleagues in the private sector to support this effort.
Microsoft has invested significantly in programs that encourage and excite young people to become interested and proficient in math and science, and in tools that support effective teaching of STEM subjects. The national competition to develop STEM-related video games announced by President Obama today, which Microsoft is proud to sponsor in the 12 to 16 year-old age category, is a great example. On an annual basis, our commitment of cash, software and volunteer time to advance STEM skills totals hundreds of millions of dollars. A seven-page white paper that we released today outlines these investments and the philosophy behind them.
Private-public partnerships like those announced today are essential to further STEM education. We must continue to work together and invest in STEM to ensure all our students have an opportunity to succeed in the new economy and contribute to our nation’s future growth.