ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) promoted his new STEM education bill Monday. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math -- fields that Begich says need more students in pursuit of college degrees.
Begich talked to the Alaska Society of Technology in Education (ASTE), which met in Anchorage, about reintroducing legislation that would create competitive grants to encourage states to develop more education programs in these professions.
Begich says only 16% of America's undergraduate degrees are in these fields, compared to 64% in Japan, 52% in China and 41% in South Korea.
According to Begich, STEM legislation will benefit both Alaska and the nation.
"In order to survive in this new world economy, even when you want to work just down the street here as a clerk in a retail store, you have to have this technology at your fingertips," said Begich.
Opposition is expected from House Republicans, but Begich says they need to look at this as an investment in the future.
Begich said Alaska needs to be prepared for opportunities that will come with increased economic activity and research in the Arctic. Alaskans will have to have strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math to get hired for the new jobs that will be created.
Begich's speech to ASTE is available to watch on the group’s website at http://aste.org.