Follow the LeadApril 1, 2014
America is at a crossroads. A workforce skills gap threatens U.S. economic prosperity and national security. Many have felt this crisis first-hand. Our nation’s K-12 education system struggles to provide students the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the global economy. As a result, employers cannot find employees with the skills they need to fill open jobs, and post-secondary institutions report increasing levels of incoming students in need of remediation. Never has the urgency been greater—we cannot let more generations of students leave high school unprepared for the world ahead of them.
The path to solving the skills gap is clear. We must help students develop interest in math and science and the skills necessary to succeed in the global economy. We must implement interesting, relevant, rigorous and hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum in all schools, for all students. We must provide teachers with professional development opportunities that catalyze their passion and talent for teaching STEM subjects. And, we must connect businesses and communities into engaged networks committed to supporting STEM education.
These are all goals that Project Lead The (PLTW), the organization I proudly lead, is accomplishing. We are committed to solving the skills-gap crisis. More than 5,000 U.S. elementary, middle and high schools use PLTW’s STEM programs—activity-, project- and problem-based programs that integrate math and science concepts into real-world situations. Students taking PLTW courses see the relevancy of their learning to the world around them. They are engaged in problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration, building the skills necessary to succeed in college and in careers, and to compete in the global economy.
PLTW has gained the recognition and support of numerous government, corporate and nonprofit organizations. For example, Change the Equation, the CEO-led organization dedicated to improving the quality of U.S. STEM education, recently named PLTW to a list of only four high-quality nationally scalable programs. We were the only in-school curricular program named. Also, the Social Impact Exchange named PLTW to its list of the top-100 performing nonprofit organizations, and we have been selected as a STEM education solution in states such as Iowa, California and Indiana.
But PLTW cannot do this work alone. To build the workforce of tomorrow, it takes all of us, from the education and business communities to our nation’s legislators and policymakers, to ensure that all students have access to high-quality, rigorous and relevant educational experiences.
Jody Fledderman, incoming chairman of the Precision Metalforming Association and president of Batesville Tool and Die, Inc., a business located in my home state of Indiana, is building the workforce of tomorrow. I commend Jody on the launch of the local PLTW/Ivy Tech Community College Manufacturing co-op program. Jody and his team are investing in education and workforce development. They are partnering with the local school district’s PLTW program to introduce interested juniors and seniors to manufacturing and to the relevant hands-on experiences and internships that expose them to modern manufacturing facilities. Thanks to Jody and other community partners, these students are on a clear path to career success.
Jody’s story at Batesville Tool and Die is inspiring, and I believe it’s one that companies all across America can model. It is my hope that more businesses and communities will follow Jody’s lead, partnering within their communities and investing in high-quality educational experiences. Our businesses and industries depend on us. Our nation depends on us. And, most importantly, our students depend on us.
Vince M. Bertram
President and Chief Executive Officer
Project Lead The
See also: Precision Metalforming Association
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