Hot on the heels of new plans to invest $14 million over the next 10 years to increase the number of STEM graduates in Louisiana – part of the deal for luring an IBM service center to Baton Rouge – outsourcing firm HCL and an organization called North Carolina New Schools have the same goal.
HCL will provide its services for building a virtual community platform to enhance networking among educators, schools, business and higher education partners as they work to ensure that every student graduates career and college-ready, Lynne Garrison, senior vice president of strategic partnership for the NC New Schools Project told me.
As Shami Khorana, president of HCL America explained to me:
Despite a growing population and greater demand for STEM- related career opportunities, the number of American graduates in the U.S. in engineering, science and computer fields continues to decline due to a paucity of high-quality STEM programs, teachers and interest of the students. At the same time, business requires a greater availability of specialized skills – particularly with deep domain knowledge within specific industries. There is a growing gap between industry demands and the talent supply that needs to be addressed quickly. …
Through this initiative, HCL aims to generate higher interest in STEM education among students and teachers along the full spectrum of continuous learning and to accelerate rigor and skills development among graduates in North Carolina.
NC New Schools, originally funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, boasts in a brochure that 37 partner high schools had no dropouts during the 2010-2011 school year and the dropout rate for all partner high schools was 2 percent compared to 3.43 percent for the state as a whole.
Former Assistant Secretary of Labor Emily DeRocco writes in a blog post on the organization’s website:
Given the rising skill requirements of modern work, and the accelerated pace of innovation and “creative destruction” in the economy, our education system and supposedly linked systems through which we continuously upgrade workforce skills, match people with work that suits them, and encourage employers to hire, are all badly in need of transformation.
The organization’s tactic is to use “evidence-based practices to provide intensive, customized professional development for educators, working to enhance rigor and create a culture of inquiry and exploration in schools. Innovative schools that partner with NC New Schools set high expectations, and students are meeting them,” Garrison said.