Students, residents, and employers of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) field graduates in New Hampshire will be hearing a whole lot more about these areas of study in coming years. Representatives from the University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire signed a letter of commitment last month that lays out steps to meet a big goal: increase STEM-educated graduates by 50 percent by 2020, and then double that number by 2025. Currently, the two systems graduate about 1,120 students in these areas.
The initiative involves creating new transfer pathways for students in STEM fields, collaborating on program development and delivery, promoting STEM career opportunities, identifying resources to support STEM field education, and expanding access to education and opportunities in STEM fields for all state residents, as well as sharing facilities, equipment, technology, and staff and faculty. Partnerships with employers will also be developed. Ross Gittell, chancellor of the community college system, said in a statement that the ultimate goals are to ensure New Hampshire “retains its economic edge in the knowledge economy” and offers residents “access to opportunities for economic advancement.”
New Hampshire is a top state in percentage of adults with degrees—but improvements can be made in percentages of post-
secondary degree holders in science and engineering, officials acknowledge. A greater number of people with STEM-related credentials and skills are needed in the workforce and job applicant pool, industry representatives have pointed out.
The graduate pledge, says Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, “has made certain that well-
prepared candidates will be there to help us to sustain and expand our allied health organizations.”