Yakima County Development Association - STEM Education Forums Focus On Improving Local Schools

Jonathan Smith

The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news. 

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STEM Education Forums Focus On Improving Local Schools

STEM Education Forums Focus On Improving Local Schools

August 27, 2012

Our office is pleased to be part of several upcoming forums that will focus on education and workforce development.  STEM, which translates to science, technology, engineering and math is more than an acronym.  It is a national movement that emphasizes relevant hands-on education where students see how the world works.  In Central Washington the Educational Service District 105 is leading a specific planning initiative to expand and implement STEM education throughout the region.

Several forums are now on the calendar where local businesses, parents, educators and community members can learn more about STEM and provide input on how to improve local schools:

    • September 17th 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Yakima Valley Technical Skills Center, Yakima (17th) - Map It!
    • September 18th 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at Heritage University, Toppenish (18th) - Map It!
    • Tuesday, October 9th 6:30 - 8:00 p.m@ Perry Tech Auditorium
    • Thursday, October 11th 6:30 - 8:00 p.m @ Sunnyside Middle School


Participants at these forums will learn more about STEM, participate in a STEM learning exercise and most importantly be asked for input on how our Valley advances STEM education and improves local schools.

Please consider attending one of these forums.  We have an enormous opportunity to prepare our kids (and working adults) for a pipeline of good paying jobs.  At the same time the stakes are higher than ever before. What we do with the 50,000 kids in local K-12 schools will matter.   How our higher education institutions develop local talent will be critically important.  Our region has an unprecedented opportunity to realize economic development through education.  At the same time though existing performance at many of our local schools will not cut it.  High dropout rates, low academic achievement, and challenging school environments will become even bigger drains on our economy in the future.

The statistics illustrating our opportunity are clear:

    • nearly half of all new jobs being created require postsecondary credentials;
    • the United States will have more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM related occupations over the next decade; and
    • 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement every day inordinantly leaving behind good career opportunities for people.


The challenges are equally clear:

    • 90 million adults over 25 have no postsecondary education (Only 1 in 6 Yakima Valley residents has 4 or more years of college)
    • Nearly 123 million workers nationally are completing for 50 million lower skill, lower-pay jobs; and
    • 37 percent of the 25-54 year old U.S. population does not have the basic ability to write a letter explaining an error on a credit card bill, use a bus schedule, or use a calculator to determine a 10 percent tip.


Please turn out for one of these local STEM forums.  The choices we make surrounding our future are extremely important.  Please get involved and help guide our community's educational efforts so that we will make opportunity blossom in the Yakima Valley.


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"New Vision helped us secure a state workforce training tax credit that has helped us advance our lean manufacturing initiative. These resources allowed us to expand our original project and work with Perry Technical Institute on a customized training program for our maintenance mechanics." - Don Carrell, Shields Bag and Printing