USTAR-Supported Technologies Help Pave Way For STEM Workforce Development
In the era of unprecedented technological revolution, Utah’s tech industry is growing faster than any other state in the United States. However, the state lacks in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workers, which could cause it to lose the competitive advantage it enjoys at present. In addition, the shortage of a skilled, technical workforce affects the government’s efforts for job creation and growth. This is where the state-sponsored USTAR (Utah Science Technology and Research) organization comes in. USTAR helps local companies and enterprises to expand their technical knowledge-base through entrepreneurial support programs and competitive grants.
In order to minimize the gap between jobs and skilled laborers, a key part of USTAR’s mission is to endorse sustainable growth and diversification of the economy. This is achieved by building STEM workforce development opportunities through technological activities at universities and by supporting start-ups. According to the STEM experts, the technology and science industry support programs are necessary for the continued, long-term growth of the engineering and science industry in the state.
This is an urgent requirement because most of the STEM vacancies remain unfilled in Utah. To address this challenge, over the past two years, USTAR has provided more than 360 student tech-based STEM workforce development projects, along with a 7% increase in trained students in the STEM workforce. The organization also provides opportunities to the undergraduate and graduate students to work on technology commercialization projects while they are enrolled in higher education institutions. Along with these tech commercialization projects, the organization also offers technical workforce development opportunities through its project BioInnovations Gateway (BiG), which aims to propose biotech start-up businesses and communal student facilities, technical resources, equipment and talent.
It can be concluded that USTAR is playing a crucial role in bridging the gap between job creation and STEM workforce availability in Utah. To ensure the growth of the tech industry and economic diversification, the organization must keep capitalizing on R&D activities at different universities and businesses, along with expanding its support programs.