Brainstorming New Ways to Bolster America’s STEM Workforce

STEM Workforce Data Jam

On January 23, 2014, the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and Office of Personnel Management jointly hosted a STEM Workforce Data Jam in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. (Photo by OPM)

Last week, more than 60 innovators, entrepreneurs, technologists, and data geeks gathered at the White House for a “Data Jam” to brainstorm new ways of using data to strengthen the Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce. The event, which was hosted by OSTP and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), also included representatives from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the General Services Administration, and a number of other Government agencies.

Today, the U.S. Government’s STEM workforce is more than 300,000 strong and includes an array of experts from diverse technical fields—including scientists researching cancer cures at the National Institutes of Health; NASA astronauts and satellite technicians; managers of complex research programs at NSF and DARPA; and many more. Every day, these public servants harness their extraordinary STEM skills to benefit the Nation. The Federal Government relies on these individuals to help assess and monitor our environment; enhance our Nation’s technical infrastructure; track and analyze data; translate research results into informed policy decisions; and more.

At last week’s Data Jam, OSTP, OPM, Federal agencies, and private-sector partners, invited a cohort of creative minds to explore new ways to ensure that the Federal Government continues to be a destination employer for these world class scientists, engineers, and innovators.  Together, participants shared their individual ideas for innovative solutions in six key areas:

  • Diversity of the STEM workforce;
  • Identifying skills & talent in real-time;
  • Optimizing quality of work produced;
  • Tracking flow into, through, and out of career paths;
  • Employee engagement and its impacts; and
  • Projecting future STEM needs.

Ideas emerging from the Data Jam included data visualizations, new online tools and collaboration platforms, and a web-based skills marketplace. A number of innovators in the room committed to building prototypes of these solutions to test their potential usefulness in enhancing and supporting the Federal STEM workforce. 

These exciting ideas are just the beginning. We look forward to keeping you updated as these solutions are prototyped and plan to showcase some of the best innovative solutions to bolster America’s STEM Workforce later this year.

STEM Workforce Data Jam 2

Brainstorming at the STEM Workforce Data Jam in Washington, DC. (Photo by OPM)

If you’re interested in sharing ideas about how data, including open government data, can be used to better understand any of the key issues  described above, please let us know at FedSTEMWorkforce@ostp.gov. We look forward to receiving your ideas as we work to more effectively unleash the power of data to strengthen the Federal STEM workforce.

Arun Seraphin is Principal Assistant Director for National Security and International Affairs at OSTP and John Paul Farmer is a Senior Advisor at OPM

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