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Governor Larry Hogan Announces Comprehensive Initiative to Boost Computer Science Workforce Development Statewide

Executive Order, Proposed Legislation, and $5 Million Added Funding Aim to Increase Job Readiness, Diversity in Computer Science Industries

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today announced a comprehensive computer science education and workforce development plan, including a new executive order, proposed legislation, and $5 million in new education funding.

The governor’s plan, known as the ACCESS Initiative (Achieving Computer Science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide), fulfills the commitment he made in joining the National Governors Association’s Governors Partnership for K-12 Computer Science in July. In joining the Partnership, the governor committed to strengthening computer science education across states for all students in order to meet the demands of a 21st century workforce and prepare students for the jobs of the future. Current estimates indicate that there are more than 500,000 open computing jobs across the country and over 115,000 total computer science-related jobs in Maryland.

“For nearly three years, our administration has worked tirelessly to build an unrivaled ecosystem of innovation and economic growth in Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “We want to make sure that Marylanders have the tools and the skills they need to compete for 21st century jobs.

“In this rapidly-evolving job landscape, states that have access to a highly trained workforce will have a major advantage. Maryland simply must continue to lead the way, and closing this skills gap begins with a focus on education. We must spark the interest of students – particularly girls – beginning at an even younger age, and we must inspire high school and college students to pursue careers in computer science,” the governor continued.

While Maryland has a highly educated workforce and computer science-related industries are growing in the state, the demand is increasing at an even faster rate, and companies often experience difficulty in finding workers with the necessary training and skills. There are currently nearly 20,000 openings for high-paying computing-related jobs in Maryland – four times the national average – and while computing-related jobs in the state are projected to grow by another 12 percent over the next decade, in 2015, Maryland produced fewer than 3,000 computer science graduates.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings in the nation, but universities are only expected to produce enough qualified graduates to fill 29 percent of those jobs. In addition, there is a lack of diversity in the computer sciences sector; in 2015, only 20 percent of computer science graduates were female, and of the Maryland students who took the AP Computer Science exam, less than one quarter were girls.

To help address these issues, Governor Hogan today signed Executive Order 01.01.2017.27, directing the Task Force on Cybersecurity and Information Technology, as part of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board, to study opportunities to grow the sector of Maryland’s economy associated with computer science and the Information Technology industry. The task force will focus on developing pathways that meet identified workforce needs in computing fields, addressing the challenges facing Maryland’s talent pipeline, and encouraging employer partners to invest in Maryland’s IT workforce. In addition, the task force will be asked to identify innovative, sustainable ways to promote gender and minority equity in the STEM and IT workforce. Their findings will culminate in a final report due to the governor by June 2018.

“This kind of investment in secondary school STEM infrastructure is exactly what is needed to meet the long-term requirement of cybersecurity workforce development,” said Bruce Spector, Task Force member and President of Baltimore Cyber Range. “With the large number of open jobs and the lack of qualified applicants available to fill these requirements we need strategic as well as out-of-the-box thinking. What the Governor has come up with is a great way to start filling the gap. It is a perfect allocation of resources and will pay the State great dividends in employment gains for the long term.”

“The National Security Agency recognizes the importance of developing a nation that is cyber-aware and ultimately cyber-secure,” said Judith Kain Emmel, Task Force member and Director for State and Local Affairs for the NSA. “With the highest number of designated National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, Maryland is positioned to lead the way in improving the STEM and IT pipeline, which is critical for defending our nation.”

The governor also announced that he will be submitting legislation in the 2018 Maryland General Assembly session to implement computer science standards statewide for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. This will include: goals of the computer science curricula, strategies for accomplishing these goals, and a timeline to carry out the strategies described in the plan. The administration will collaborate with computer science education stakeholder groups, including teachers and representatives from higher education and computer science organizations in Maryland. 

Additionally, the governor will allocate $5 million to fund teacher training and professional development for computer science and provide grants to Local Education Agencies and individual schools for professional learning models and equipment.

“Maryland’s commitment to an innovative economy is holistic,” said Pat Yongpradit, the Chief Academic Officer of Code.org. “Not only is there workforce development to address current needs, but also an investment in the future by ensuring a foundational computer science education for all students.”

Finally, in order to specifically promote the education of young girls in STEM and computer science and increase the number of women in the computer science workforce, Governor Hogan announced a partnership with Girls Who Code to create the first-ever Governor’s Club Challenge in the nation. Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology fields. The Girls Who Code clubs are free after-school programs that allow 6th– through 12th-grade girls to use computer science to impact their communities alongside supportive peers and role models. There are already 23 clubs in the state, and the Governor’s Club Challenge will create a partnership among state and local leaders, school districts, community organizations, and industry representatives to launch new Girls Who Code clubs in diverse communities statewide.

“We are thrilled to be working with Governor Hogan and the State of Maryland to expand computer science education with an eye on gender. The policy changes and Governor’s Club Challenge will help build a pipeline of female coders, changing not only their lives, but the lives of those who will benefit from the innovations they create,” said Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “When you teach a girl to code, you’re giving her a path into the middle class and giving her a say in her future and the future of her world.”

 

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