NEC urges Congress to address STEM skills gap in immigration reform

The New England Council is urging Congress to address the shortage of highly skilled workers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields as they pursue comprehensive immigration reform.  In a letter sent today to all members of the New England Congressional delegation, the Council urged members to support the provisions put forth in “Immigration Innovation Act of 2013,” referred to as the “I-Squared” bill to address the STEM skills gap with both short term and long term solutions.

The bipartisan “I-Squared”  bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, puts forth both a short term and a long term solution to the STEM skills gap.  In the short-term, the I-Squared Bill would increase the cap on H1-B visas that allow employers to supplement their current workforce with highly skilled foreign workers, and increases the number of permanent resident “green cards” available to foreign-born graduates with advanced STEM degrees.  To provide a more long term solution to the shortage of STEM workers, the legislation reallocates the fees collected from H1-B visas and STEM green cards fees to fund a grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining to be administered by the states.

It its letter, the Council notes that the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that STEM jobs will grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, compared to just 9.8 percent-growth in non-STEM jobs.  However, at the current pace, the U.S. simply will not be able to produce enough workers to fill the jobs.

The Council also recently joined inSPIRE STEM USA, a broad-based coalition launched to support I-Squared.  As a coalition member, last week the Council signed on to a letter from inSPIRE STEM USA to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee urging them to support the bill.  Click here to read the letter to the HELP Committee.

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