On February 9th, MDF launched its 2012 Leadership Unplugged series in grand style! Over 100 engaged leaders from around Maine gathered at Bowdoin College to hear Michael Dubyak, President and CEO of Wright Express, describe the challenge that he and several other major employers are having in finding qualified Information Technology employees. The challenge is real. Currently, Maine’s largest and most rapidly growing companies have to outsource hundreds of high-paying IT jobs each year because they simply can’t find qualified Maine workers. Wright Express and others have had to hire consultants to fill the need or have opened and expanded operations in other states and countries. Further, Maine’s DOL projects that in the next 10 years, the demand for computer technology and science graduates will outstrip the supply by 1,000 people. 1,000 new jobs that could belong to our kids. Just imagine!
Soooo – what gives? Maine is a world leader in having one-on-one computing in our middle and high schools. Maine was the first state in the nation to have all of our schools and libraries connected to high speed internet. Maine is home to the 14th best Math and Science High School in the nation. A November 2010 Briefing Paper on STEM Education in Maine shows that jobs in the STEM fields pay 58% more than average. I have no doubt that Maine’s young people LOVE technology. I’m guessing they’d like to have a job that pays, in the words of my 17 year-old son, “bank”, and they’d like to at least have the option of living in Maine.
Soooo – what are we going to do? With his steadfast commitment to Maine and his passion for taking action now – Mike has assembled a team of CEOs, CIOs, and University and Community College officials and has launched a plan to double the number of IT graduates in the next 4 years. This will surely help. But to truly seize the opportunity – we’re going to have to all play a role. Might you consider offering an internship in your organization? Bringing teachers into your business or visiting schools to let them know of the great jobs that await our young people? Participating in the work of the Reach Center or maybe just finding out the myriad of ways that you can help to inspire excitement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math by taking a few hours out of your time to go to the 2012 Maine STEM Summit – Maine-Based STEM: Broadening our Engagement March 20th at Colby. Let’s work together to give the next generation of Mainers an opportunity to soar! I think we can do this. What do you think?
If one man’s passion can begin to turn this challenge into an opportunity – just imagine what all of us working together could do.