Community College System President Dr. Scott Ralls led the discussion, which was attended by members of the education cabinet’s working group that focuses on talent and workforce development.
North Carolina’s STEM Education Strategy explains that the state is moving rapidly from a low-skill, low-wage economy to a high-skill, knowledge-based, technology, and innovation economy, and these changes demand an adaptable workforce.
STEM-related jobs are growing faster than any other kind of job, according to the STEM Education Strategy, and STEM jobs pay 64 percent more than other kinds of jobs in North Carolina.
The strategy that the working group is considering calls for increasing student interest and achievement in STEM fields, and aligning and coordinating the investments of public and private sector partners to scale high-quality programs efficiently, among other recommendations.
Anthony Carnevale, a nationally-known economist specializing in the intersection between education and labor, spoke more generally about how the economy has shifted from one that used to demand a high school education to today’s, which demands at least a bachelor’s degree in order to compete in the market.
Asked about North Carolina’s recent move to stop paying teachers for advancing their education beyond a bachelor’s degree, Carnevale told NC Policy Watch that this puts North Carolina in a non-competitive position in attracting good teachers.
“In teaching, master’s degrees have become the entry-level qualification into the field,” said Carnevale. In many places, teaching positions require the graduate degree, so teachers who have gone back to school for a master’s won’t see an economic incentive to come to—or stay in—North Carolina.
“The real issue here is value,” said Carnevale.” What do you value in a teacher? That’s what you should be paying for.”