What would it take to get Microsoft, Google, and other tech competitors in the same room passionately agreeing on the same goal? Those who attended the Legislative Tech Hub Caucus know the answer: the importance of making computer science education widely available.
Boston’s tech leaders, including our own Annmarie Levins and representatives of Google, Oracle, and Intel, joined Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Kathi-Ann Reinstein to push for an initiative to ensure that computer science and STEM education become widely available and prioritized in Massachusetts schools.
At the caucus Levins, Associate General Counsel based at Microsoft’s NERD Center, reminded the audience that Massachusetts has a long history as a major tech hub in the United States. She noted, however, that New York has recently witnessed an expansion of its tech landscape and threatens to surpass greater Boston in the breadth and influence of its tech sector. One key to maintaining Massachusetts’ leadership status is in ensuring broad opportunities in computer science and STEM education.
But it’s not just a matter of status. Technology is undoubtedly a staple of the Massachusetts economy, providing thousands of jobs, many of which remain unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates. With over 6,000 jobs unable to be filled at Microsoft alone last year, Levins rightly dubbed this lack of workers as a “talent crisis.” The way to avert this crisis is to step up education in the Commonwealth and around the country.
Levins also spoke of Microsoft’s Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program, which sends Microsoft engineers to teach in local schools on company time. She noted that TEALS is expanding to Cambridge this fall. While a successful and admirable program, change needs to be systematic and holistic. Massachusetts’ schools and universities need to work together with the Legislature and businesses to ensure that the Commonwealth remains a technology powerhouse.
To see firsthand how Levins masterfully addressed the challenges facing computer science and STEM education, watch the short clip (above) of her presentation at the caucus. If you had any doubts about the necessity of improved education, they will surely disappear after listening to her speak.