As the Federal government strives to grow the U.S. science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce to improve citizen service and strengthen the economy, Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., is ensuring Congress is also doing its part by working on legislation to boost America’s IT education and workforce.

Speaking on July 21 at the MerITocracy American Innovation, Sen. Rosen emphasized that the U.S. has good, well-paying jobs in IT – and plenty of workers who are looking for better jobs. The issue is that those workers lack the training for the available positions, creating a persistent imbalance.

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“The fact is, while use of technology in our everyday lives is increased, it has led to a growing gap between the abilities of our workforce and the skills needed for success in tech related careers,” she said. “We have good paying jobs available – jobs in technology and in STEM – and we have workers that are looking for jobs, but they lacked the training and the skills or the education needed to fill them.”

Sen. Rosen herself was a computer programmer before running for office. During that time, she says she learned to analyze systems, interpret data, organize information, and solve problems – which created goal-oriented skillsets that she still carries with her today.

“But what my job is now is to make sure that I’m not the last one, that’s for sure, because STEM careers are the future of the American economy and they are the key to our competitiveness around the world,” the senator said.

Sen. Rosen has introduced numerous bills that aim to strengthen and build out a skilled workforce pipeline in the U.S.

Among those legislative efforts is the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs in America Act, a bill to help close the skills gap between qualified workers and advanced manufacturing jobs. She’s also a driving force behind the Cyber Ready Workforce Act, which is bipartisan legislation directing the Department of Labor to award grants to increase cybersecurity apprenticeship programs.

Rosen also has introduced the STEM Restart Act—a bill that aims to help fill technical positions and take steps to support Americans already in the workforce through training and job growth opportunities while providing funding to small- and medium-sized STEM businesses to offer paid mid-level career “returnships.”

“We have to look at the bigger picture, bolstering our long-term workforce goals,” the senator emphasized. “It’s important we build the next generation of those highly skilled, qualified – I don’t want to say workers – I want to say our kids or grandkids or friends or family or nieces or nephews or cousins. That’s what happens when we invest in the future.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.