Ensuring a Strong U.S. Scientific, Technical, and Engineering Workforce in the 21st Century
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Ensuring a Strong U.S. Scientific, Technical, and Engineering Workforce in the 21st Century

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      This review arises from the Administration's recognition that the nation's economy, knowledge base and ability to address pressing public health, environmental and national security challenges in the 21st century will depend greatly on the strength of its scientific, technical and engineering (ST&E) workforce. In April 1998, the national Science and Technology Council Committee on Science formed an Interagency Working Group (IWG) to conduct an assessment of the ST&E workforce. The IWG analyzed the impact that demographic and socioeconomic changes could have on the future ST&E workforce in the United States. It also initiated an analysis of IWG member agency programs that are designed to increase the participation in the ST&E workforce of women, minorities and persons with disabilities. It is concluded that ST&E workers are essential to both the private and public sectors. In the private sector, they help propel the economy and provide valuable services. In the public sector, ST&E workers support important federal missions. Based on tight global ST&E workforce, changing demographics, and projected growth in ST&E-based jobs, it is in the national interest to vigorously pursue the development of domestic ST&E workers from all ethnic and gender groups. Special attention should be paid to groups that are currently under-represented in the ST&E workforce, because it is with these groups that much of our nation's growing talent pool resides. Recommendations include the following: 1. Federal agencies should critically evaluate how the wide range of programs they support can enlarge the ST&E talent pool by encouraging greater participation of all ethnic and gender groups. Particular emphasis should be given to women, minorities and persons with disabilities. 2. Federal agencies should continue to support research on barriers to full participation of under-represented ethnic and gender groups. 3. Federal agencies should emphasize recruitment and retention of qualified individuals from ethnic and gender groups that are currently under-represented in the ST&E workforce and vigorously pursue professional development opportunities for those already in the federal workforce. 4. The Federal Government should establish and oversee the maintenance of an Internet site that provides information on ST&E workforce-related programs.
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