I was honored to be invited by the Detroit Regional Chamber to speak at the Microsoft Youthspark STEM education event. The event took place on Tuesday, November 19th at Lawrence Tech in Southfield, and featured a number of Detroit area civic and business leaders discussing ways we as a business community can help get more young people involved, active and interested in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There are currently thousands of unfilled jobs in this country that require training and education in those subjects, and employers are having trouble finding qualified candidates to fill those positions. At a time when the job market remains poor and the American economy remains fairly fragile, that is a real shame.
I firmly believe that it’s critical to engage in meaningful dialogue and to partner with organizations that are working to make a difference in changing that deficit by educating students. Events like YouthSpark—which is a collaborative enterprise sponsored by Microsoft, the Brookings Institution and the Detroit Regional Chamber—and organizations such as Winning Futures are doing exactly that. The value of education is almost incalculable, both for society as a whole and for the business community in particular. This is the workforce of the future we are talking about—and what better investment can we make than to invest in that workforce right here in Detroit. We don’t want our brightest students to feel that they have to take their talent somewhere else. We want them to understand that the environment where they have grown up values them, that we appreciate their accomplishments and want to reward their initiative by providing them with opportunities to flourish and grow right here at home.