There is a clear need for an increasing supply of energy and mining professionals and technicians, as discussed in the previous chapters. For both of these energy and mining workforce components, a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills is required. The discussion in this report differentiates these components by referring to the technical workforce as the STEM technical workforce, and the engineers and scientists as the STEM professionals. The demand for both components is growing due to the expected retirement of baby-boom employees and growth in the energy and mining industries. Moreover, skilled energy and mining jobs at all levels increasingly require STEM capabilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Education and Training Classification System, a majority of jobs across the full spectrum of industries in the 21st century economy requires some education beyond high school, but not necessarily a 4-year college degree. The same holds true for the energy and mining industries.
For this reason, this study has focused in large part on identifying promising practices in developing the current and future energy and mining STEM technical workforce and also barriers impeding that development. A highlight of the study’s findings is the identified industry–education partnerships, particularly at community colleges or in the first 2 years of higher education, that have emerged as critical to the nation’s energy and mining future. These partnerships are designed to create competency-based educational pathways to careers in these industries.
Successful models now exist in manufacturing—closely aligned to the energy industry—and in several energy sectors, specifically nuclear power, electrical transmission, and most recently, renewable energy. There is great potential for extending this model of workforce education into all of the energy and mining industries.
Energy and manufacturing are inexorably linked. While manufacturers produce the equipment and materials to fuel energy discovery, production, and distribution, manufacturing also is the largest consumer of energy products. The success of both industries is fundamental to U.S. economic and national security. Recognizing this fact, the third annual index of the public’s perception of manufacturing (Giffi and DeRocco, 2011) identified (1) a manufacturing facility, and (2) an energy production facility, as the public’s preferences when asked what industry they would prefer to create 1,000 new jobs in their community.
Remarkable parallels exist between the workforce profiles, requirements, and challenges of these key industries. Innovation is critical to their business success, and the scientists and engineers in their workforces drive the research and development (R&D) that fuels their capacity for innovation. The infusion of technology into virtually all business processes in these two sectors is integral to their success and it has had a dramatic impact on their workforces. This trend, known as “skill-based technological change,” means that technological development and organizational changes translate into the need for workers with more education to handle more complex tasks and activities (Carnevale et al., 2010). Both industries’ workforces are grounded in the skilled crafts and trades. However, largely because of the imperative of innovation and the infusion of technology into the energy, mining, and manufacturing enterprises, the application of STEM principles in the workplace has increased the skill and competency requirements of the workforce. Thus, the energy and mining workforce is discussed in terms of two key components directly related to STEM knowledge and skills—STEM professionals and the STEM technical workforce.
Much research has been done by many esteemed organizations, for example, the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century (NAS/NAE/IOM, 2007), that have focused on improving the production of STEM professionals. Among their foci and recommendations have been actions to increase the nation’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education and to make the U.S. the most attractive place for research so that the nation can develop, recruit, and retain the best students, scientists, and engineers from inside and outside of the United States. The committee accepts those recommendations and to supplement and strengthen the nation’s resolve to develop the energy and mining workforce, focuses most of its recommendations and strategies on developing the STEM technical workforce. Without the technical capacity to produce energy and extract minerals, production will most assuredly leave our shores, followed by R&D.
The energy and mining industries face several major demographic challenges.
The first is shared by virtually all U.S. industries—the aging of the baby-boom generation. The more mature energy and mining sectors (oil and gas, coal, and nonfuel minerals) have the most significant challenge in terms of workforce replacement requirements. In addition to the number of needed replacements, these industries will face the need for replacements with higher levels of education and different skills than their predecessors. Across the entire economy, by 2018, 33 million replacement jobs will have to be filled, and 63 percent will require workers with at least some college education (Carnevale et al., 2010). These energy and mining industries also have the traditional challenges of a 20th century workforce—predominantly male, Caucasian, and older—that is misaligned with the profile of the 21st century workforce.
Immigration policy of the United States and most of its international competitors has an impact on workforce availability. The current workforce-related immigration programs, that is, the H-1B visa program targeted at high-skill professionals and the H-2a and H-2b programs for temporary workers (primarily in the agricultural sector and for low-skill jobs) are misaligned with the nation’s need to increase the STEM professionals and STEM technical workforce. In comparison, for example, Canada has a points-based program aimed at fulfilling policy objectives for immigration, particularly in relation to labor market needs.
Although reformed immigration policies could be helpful, it is most important to focus on strategies to “grow” our own talent. The United States has models currently at work that should be brought to scale to accomplish this goal. This action calls for a lasting commitment to the public–private partnerships that will define and support educational pathways for all students and workers to build the competencies and skills required for the U.S. energy and mining workforce.
The pronounced need for a STEM technical workforce and the inadequate pipeline of qualified workers is not unique to the U.S. energy and mining industries. In fact, the decline in preparedness for a qualified STEM technical workforce is an impediment to overall U.S. economic growth. This was cited by the National Academies in its Rising Above a Gathering Storm reports (NAS/NAE/ IOM, 2007, 2010). All four major recommendations in the first report pertain to factors crucial to meeting the energy and mining workforce demands of the future, but the two relating to improving K-12 STEM education and increasing the number of people pursuing STEM education most directly affect the energy and mining workforce educational needs.
Key Indicators of Our K-12 Challenges
Lack of Preparation Among U.S. Students
A recent ACT report (based on the 1.6 million graduating seniors taking the ACT exam) corroborates the previous work of the Rising Above the Gathering Storm committee as it pertains to the poor educational preparation of high school students (ACT, 2011) Some of the most compelling statistics include the following:
- Only 25 percent of these graduating seniors met or surpassed the four College Readiness Benchmarks in the areas of science, math, reading, and English;
- 15 percent met the benchmark in only one subject; and
- 28 percent did not meet the benchmark in any of the four subjects (ACT, 2011).
The College Board, which administers the other major college entrance examination in the United States (the SAT), released similarly troubling statistics showing declines in critical reading skills, mathematics, and writing. The College Board explained the decline partially by stating, “as we reach more students who have less resources, scores will tend to drop” (W. Camara, The College Board, personal communication, 2011, as cited in Rivera, 2011). They suggested that education officials at all levels “look to the rigor of school curriculum” (Rivera, 2011).
ACT reported that 70 percent of the increase in postsecondary requirements is due to upgrades in skills demanded by occupations that previously did not require higher education. Also, their energy gap analysis indicated that the portion of examinees able to meet or exceed the criteria for energy education demands breaks down as shown in Table 7.1 (Scaglione, 2011).
Student Disengagement and High Dropout Rates
Recent statistics show that about 7,000 students drop out of high school every school day in the United States, and about 1.3 million students do not graduate each year. Also, a lack of student engagement is indicated by research to be predictive of a student dropping out (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2010). Other data indicate that more than half of high school dropouts under 25 years of age were unemployed on average for 2008 (Sum et al., 2009).
Figure 7.1 indicates the lack of educational preparedness in 2011 shown by ACT-tested high school graduates for each of the 2018 projected five fastest-growing career fields. It gives the percentage of these 2011 graduates who indicated a career interest in each of these fields that met each of the four ACT
TABLE 7.1 Examinees That Met or Exceeded Energy Skill Requirements.
|Occupations||Examinees That Met or Exceeded Energy Skill Requirements (%)|
|Applied Mathematics||Reading for Information||Locating Information|
|High-education occupations (typically require attainment of bachelor’s degree or higher level of education)||12||59||2|
|Middle-education occupations (typically require work experience in related occupation, a postsecondary vocational award, or attainment of an associate’s degree)||62||70||27|
|Low-education occupations (typically require short-, medium-, or long-term on-the-job training)||52||55||72|
SOURCE: Adapted from Scaglione (2011).
FIGURE 7.1 ACT data on educational/career aspirations and economic development. SOURCE: ACT (2011, p. 11).
FIGURE 7.2 ACT data on U.S. energy skill requirements (January 2006 – December 2010). SOURCE: Scaglione (2011).
College Readiness Benchmarks. For none of these career fields did at least 50 percent of the 2011 graduates meet all four of the benchmarks.
Figure 7.2 shows the skill requirements for U.S. energy occupations.1 In the analysis, occupations were grouped into the categories of low, middle, and high education (based on the BLS’s Most Significant Source of Education/Training by SOC Code). Figure 7.2 shows an upward trend in the level of skills needed for jobs requiring higher levels of education, and it indicates how the skills requirements for the low- and middle-education occupations actually require middle and high skill levels, respectively.
Some Reasons for the K-12 Failures
Lack of a High Standard Core High School Curriculum
Both the ACT and SAT identify one area as a key indicator of student performance—for the SAT, those students who completed a core high school curriculum (4+ English, 3 math, 3 natural science, 3 social science/history) scored 143 points higher on average. The 2011 ACT data show that not only were the graduates who were taking the same defined core curriculum more likely to meet the corresponding ACT College Readiness Benchmark in 2011, but also that the largest curriculum-based difference in benchmark attainment was in mathematics.
Too Few Pathways to High School Graduation
Another factor contributing to the K-12 failures is that there are too few alternative pathways to high school graduation. Such alternatives would include
1 Energy occupations are defined as those that are specific to an energy industry (i.e., occupations for which at least 10 percent of the overall employment is represented by that industry).
career and technical education pathways that integrate academic and project-based learning.
Needed Improvement in K-12 STEM Teacher Preparation
The two highest priority actions for the nation, according to the Gathering Storm report (NAS/NAE/IOM, 2010), are to provide teachers in every classroom who are qualified to teach the subject they teach, and to double the federal investment in research (to be competitively awarded and largely performed by research universities as opposed to government facilities).
A program that has had significant impact in educating K-12 teachers who can improve student STEM achievement is the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, a grant program administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It gives funding to higher-education institutions to give scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support for engaging and preparing gifted STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers. For each year of support received, the stipend and scholarship recipients must finish 2 years of teaching in a high-need school district, with the ultimate goal being to provide more STEM-qualified K-12 teachers in high-need school districts.
The program also provides support for recruiting and developing NSF Teaching Fellows, who receive salary supplements while they satisfy a 4-year teaching requirement. It also provides support for developing NSF Master Teaching Fellows by offering professional development and salary supplements as they teach for 5 years in a high-need school district. The goal is to recruit people with good STEM backgrounds that might not otherwise consider being a K-12 teacher.
The University of Texas’ UTeach program is a rigorous, comprehensive, and proven approach to inquiry-based curriculum, internship, and mentorship that has been emulated and replicated by universities across the United States. Public–private partnerships have supported the continuation and replication of the model, and the NSF Noyce program funds scholarships for students at many of the sites.
Disproportionate Access to Quality Instruction
Although success in science and engineering fields requires high-quality instruction, math and science teachers are distributed unequally, both geographically and in quality. In 2007, 80 percent of eighth graders were taught math and science by teachers with degrees in the field, while the percentage of students taught by instructors with general education preparation fell to 9 percent. Encouragingly, more than 82 percent of public school fifth and eighth graders had teachers who had worked in that level of education for 3 or more years (NSB, 2010).
Socioeconomic factors contribute to disproportional access to quality instruction. In 2004, black and Hispanic fifth graders were less likely than white students to receive instruction in math from teachers with a graduate degree. Also, in 2007, eighth graders whose mothers lacked a high -school diploma or
its equivalent were far less likely to be taught science by an instructor holding a graduate degree, a regular or advanced teaching certificate, a degree or certificate in science, and more than 3 years of experience teaching the subject (NSB, 2010).
Impacts of K-12 Failures on Our Ability to Build an Adequate Pipeline of Qualified Students into Postsecondary Programs Aligned to Energy and Mining Careers
Overwhelming Requirements for Developmental Math
Developmental math can act as a critical gatekeeper for student pathways into energy and mining careers. It also is very important to student retention, and it impacts attrition rates once students are in community colleges. Student must overcome the current culture of math phobia to be successful in any postsecondary STEM program. The key to passing it may lie in innovative strategies in math delivery, including contextualization, compression and paired courses, STEMway, Statway, and Quantway; academic and nonacademic student support; and online technologies.
Remediation Requirements Shift Costs to Higher Education and Affect College Completion
Because of the lack of student preparation in K-12, about one-third of students entering higher education need remedial courses. Such remediation consumes higher education resources, and there is a high cost to both students and the nation. Nationally, for the 2007-2008 school year, remediation in public institutions costs an estimated $3.6 billion. Also, students who take remedial courses are more likely to drop out of college, resulting in an estimated $2 billion in lost lifetime wages (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2011).
Complete College America offers statistics on college graduation rates in 33 states. Its report gives data on students whose progress has been difficult to track, including those enrolled part-time, pursuing certificates, or taking remedial courses, as well as older and transfer students. Analyzing completion rates for these students yields a more complete understanding of student chances at college success. The report notes: “Time is the enemy of college completion. . . . The longer it takes, the more life gets in the way of success (Complete College America, 2011, p. 3).
With increasingly limited budgets for public higher education, community colleges and state universities must choose between offering developmental courses or other degree program courses. Students also find their time to degree completion longer and more frustrating.
These economic pressures on curriculum demands are unhelpful because community colleges are proving to be the best vehicle for delivering the quality technician-level, skills-based education that the energy and mining industries
need for a STEM technical workforce. They are capable of rapid turnaround in delivering new and adapted curricula and offer low-cost accessibility for the broad and diverse student base needed for the energy and mining economy.
Organizations across the country are building strategic partnerships in which industry representatives are advising educators on industry’s skill needs, and educational institutions are working to align education and workforce development programs directly to the industry needs. This work is primarily focused in postsecondary education, with particular applicability in the community college system. This is appropriate, based on the best information available regarding levels of education and skills requirements in demand. The following points are noted:
- By 2018, 63 percent of the 46.8 million openings (new and replacement jobs) across the economy will require workers with at least some college education (Carnevale et al., 2010);
- Of these, 30 percent will require some college or a 2-year associate’s degree and 33 percent will require at least a bachelor’s degree (Carnevale et al., 2010);
- Community colleges provide a continuum of postsecondary education from 1-year certificates through associate’s degrees, and are often the first 2 years of higher education leading to bachelor’s and higher degrees in 4-year colleges and universities;
- There are 1,200 community and technical colleges providing higher education that is more accessible to many and less costly than 4-year colleges and universities;
- Community colleges are more flexible and adaptable in aligning their programs of study to industry needs; and
- Community colleges are more flexible in their educational service delivery by adapting class schedules to working learners and transitioning workers with jobs.
This system of community and technical colleges has become an important economic development asset for the communities and states in which they reside. By specifically working with energy and mining companies choosing to locate within the college footprint, the college can tailor its curriculum for the needs of the company located or locating in the community.
The Petroleum Engineering Technology program at Houston Community College and its HCC-NE Energy Institute are an example of industry–education cooperation in the petroleum sector (see the Oil and Gas section in Chapter 2).
This is an example of how curricula previously reserved for university levels can be taught at the technician level in order to meet industry needs for a flexible and skilled workforce. This program is designed to prepare individuals to work as petroleum engineering technicians in the oil and gas and related industries.
Many of these arrangements have been specifically designed to meet energy company and sector needs, identified between the college and the companies whom they directly serve. Although these can be incredibly successful partnerships (as long as the company/sector are present and hiring), they have not driven the systemic reform of the nation’s public and private postsecondary education system necessary to ensure a STEM technical workforce for the energy and mining industries, broadly, or for all sectors.
In a move to broader impact, the NSF has funded Advanced Technological Education (ATE) projects and centers at selected community colleges, with a mission to focus on particular industries or sectors, conduct industry-educator analyses of the skills and competencies required within the sectors, and provide expertise to other colleges on the development of curriculum aligned to the skills requirements. Examples include the ATE California Regional Consortium for Engineering Advances in Technological Education (CREATE) Renewable Energy Regional Center in Southern California, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) National Environmental and Energy Resource Center in Iowa, the ATE Regional Center for Nuclear Education and Training (RCNET) in Florida, and the new ATE BEST Center for Commercial Energy Management in Northern California.
Each of these partnership arrangements has made progress in better aligning postsecondary education programs to the needs of the energy and mining industries broadly, and the sectors specifically. However, the United States still is not producing the STEM technical workforce needed for success in supporting the nation’s diversified energy portfolio. The national solution being deployed to address the parallel challenges confronting the U.S. manufacturing industry today could be an important strategy for the energy and mining industries to pursue, in partnership with education and government.
The Solution for Manufacturing with Applicability to the Energy and Mining Workforce
The nexus of the solution is its reliance on industry-based skills certifications to drive the alignment of educational programs with the skills needed by advanced manufacturers. Individual manufacturing skills certification programs (in particular occupations or sectors) have been field tested for years, demonstrating that industry-designed and -implemented skills certifications and associated credentials can be translated to secondary and postsecondary learning standards and content in curriculum. For manufacturing, the Manufacturing Institute, a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan affiliate to the National Association
of Manufacturers (NAM), organized selected individual certification programs into a system that identifies the basic skills requirements across all sectors in the manufacturing economy.
Key to understanding this solution is the fact that the core or basic skills in manufacturing (or energy)—including personal effectiveness skills, foundational academic skills, general workplace skills, and basic industry technical skills—are building blocks to virtually all careers in the industry, across virtually all occupations and sectors. Also, these basic skills can be learned in a secondary or postsecondary (community college) program, resulting in both high school and/ or college credit and degrees, and industry-granted skills certifications.
The credentials gained in certification programs increase a worker’s ability to be mobile in the workforce and compete for higher-level jobs. Skills certifications can be mapped to career pathways throughout many sectors and to educational pathways to help students who need to pick the right courses, transitioning workers who need to add new skills for new jobs, and current workers who need to upgrade skills in order to adapt to new technologies or business processes.
Certification of individuals is an important tool for developing and maintaining the nation’s technical workforce, as are postsecondary programs that teach to industry-identified skills. Also, certification programs yield credentials with direct value in the marketplace. Skills certifications cut across all professions and have been in common use for many years in certain manufacturing and industrial sectors. Well-designed certifications help validate that workers have the required knowledge and skills, and they allow workers to be productive on “day 1.”
In 2005-2006, manufacturing industry executives, in partnership with the Department of Labor, identified the basic or core personal effectiveness skills, academic competencies, general workplace skills, and crosscutting manufacturing skills necessary for workers to succeed in virtually all entry-level jobs across all sectors in advanced manufacturing, including in the energy sector. The industry representatives attested that individuals possessing these core skills were basically prepared for the technical workforce essential to the success of their industry.
These core skills were organized into a competency model, using the knowledge, skills, and abilities research in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database. The result was the Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model—a pyramid of knowledge and skills that align to those needed by workers throughout the industry. Higher-level or advanced skills identified by industry build on these core skills and provide career pathways and advancement opportunities in specific sectors or in specific occupations in regional economies, responding to local labor market needs.
The core skills can be gained in secondary and early postsecondary education programs, primarily in community colleges, in associate degree programs that integrate industry-recognized skills certification programs. Educational pathways to higher-level skills can be mapped to college or university baccalaureate- and
graduate-degree programs, online programs, work-based learning, and/or apprenticeship programs to the journeyman and master levels. In other words, successful attainment of the core skills in community colleges positions workers for entry-level employment success as well as for career advancement in the industry.
The skills sets in the Manufacturing Skills Certification System (with applicability across all energy and mining industry sectors) are largely the applied STEM skills required in both sectors. Thus, integration of these industry-recognized skills credentials into secondary and postsecondary programs of study creates alternative STEM pathways to high school graduation and postsecondary degrees, creating the nation’s technical workforce in a new, 21st century approach to career and technical education.
Because a system of nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials aligns learning standards, content, and skills certifications to educational and career pathways, benefits are immediately realized. Education and training become more engaging and meaningful to students who may therefore stay in school rather than leave because of nonengagement with traditional programs. Achieving industry-recognized credentials requires mastery and proficiency, leading to competency-based educational pathways of applied learning (offering an alternative to purely theory-based instruction and success measured by “seat time” and credit hours). Achieving skills certification leads to employment; this educational credential has value in the labor market. Also, this solution increases the number of skilled technical workers for American industries.
The Process Used by the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Sector
In 2009, the Manufacturing Institute launched the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System. By deploying this system of industry-recognized skills certifications through the nation’s education and workforce development systems, manufacturers intended to use these publicly-funded systems to produce the skilled workforce critical to the strength and vitality of the manufacturing economy. The industry’s purpose in developing and deploying this system is to provide industry expertise in helping secondary and postsecondary educational institutions design competency-based education and training for the manufacturing workforce.
The evolution of this certification system began with development of the Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model (Figure 7.3). Developed by a strong public–private partnership engaging the Department of Labor and industry, this model is essentially a roadmap of the skills needed by workers entering and advancing in careers in the manufacturing economy.
The Manufacturing Institute and national trade association members focused initially on the core skills in the first four tiers of the competency model, recognizing that these foundational skills cut across all manufacturing sectors and are also applicable in related industries such as energy and construction. These core
FIGURE 7.3 Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model. SOURCE: Adapted from U.S. Department of Labor (2010) in Manufacturing Institute (2011). Used with permission from the Manufacturing Institute.
skills include personal effectiveness skills, basic academic requirements, general workplace competencies, and industrywide technical skills. The Institute then evaluated the marketplace for existing certifications that could meet the following national criteria: learning standards and content were directly aligned to the competency model; the certifications had achieved national portability, were third-party validated (ISO/ANSI preferred), and were industry-driven; and there was data-based evidence that supported the certifications’ alignment to industry needs.
This collaborative effort yielded an organization of the certification programs and the credentials they offer, into a system of stackable credentials that can be earned in secondary and postsecondary education. The Skills Certification System and the career pathways it supports align to education pathways in secondary and postsecondary education. Tying the skills certifications into education pathways promotes their being part of degree programs allowing a worker to pursue stackable credentials and accumulate credits for multiple degrees.
These upwardly-moving pathways show how learning is a continuum for workers as more competencies are obtained and verified with recognized credentials. Credentials earned in the Skills Certification System improve a person’s ability move in the workforce, strive for higher-level jobs, and move to valued careers by (1) bestowing skills and competencies that are recognized throughout the industry and (2) providing career pathways that are mapped to educational pathways linked with credentials of value to employers in multiple sectors.
The first four tiers of skills and competencies needed for entry-level workers are relevant across all sectors in manufacturing and the related energy and
FIGURE 7.4 Aligning education, certification, and career pathways: example of Industrial Systems Technology at Forsyth Technical Community College. SOURCE: Manufacturing Institute (2011). Used with permission from the Manufacturing Institute.
construction industries. From a workforce development perspective, it is important to note that the first three tiers are needed across all sectors of the U.S. economy. This supports the growing use by employers of the ACT National Career Readiness credential, and its associated WorkKeys® assessments, to validate an individual’s readiness for employment and ability to learn technical skills. (The National Career Readiness Certificate [NCRC] and NCRC Plus are highlighted in Box 7.1.)
As the Manufacturing Skills Certification System’s learning standards, content, and credentials are being implemented in high schools and community colleges across the nation, education pathways are being aligned to stackable certification pathways, which in turn are aligned to career pathways and jobs, salaries, and benefits that can be earned. No other industry has yet so clearly charted the education and career courses for students, educators, and workers. Figure 7.4 shows an example of aligning education, certification, and career pathways (Industrial Systems Technology at Forsyth Technical Community College). Another good example is the Engineering Technology Associate in
The National Career Readiness Certificate
The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™) is an industry-recognized, portable, evidence-based credential that certifies essential workplace skills and is a reliable predictor of workplace success. This credential applies in all parts of the economy and confirms foundational cognitive skills in
- Critical thinking;
- Problem solving;
- Reading and using work-related text;
- Applying information from workplace documents to solve problems;
- Applying mathematical reasoning to work-related problems;
- Setting up and performing work-related mathematical calculations;
- Locating, synthesizing, and applying information presented graphically; and
- Comparing, summarizing, and analyzing information given in multiple, related graphics.
A person can earn the NCRC by taking the following three WorkKeys® assessments:
- Applied Mathematics,
- Locating Information,
- Reading for Information,
WorkKeys® assessments measure skills from the real world that employers think are essential for job success. Test questions are drawn from situations in the daily work world.1
Science degree program at the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE, 2012).2
Replication of this model as a solution to address the energy industry’s workforce development challenges has already begun.
As noted in the Nuclear Power section, the Nuclear Energy Institute has worked with the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) to create an Energy Competency Model for the energy generation, transmission, and
Foundational knowledge and skills that are related to job tasks are the best indicators of work performance. Combining measures of cognitive skills and those of work-related soft skills provides increased accuracy in predicting a person’s success with work or training. Along with the foundational cognitive skills noted previously, the NCRC Plus ranks individuals in the soft skills categories of
- Work Discipline: Productivity and dependability;
- Teamwork: Tolerance, communication, and attitude;
- Customer Service Orientation: Interpersonal skills and perseverance;
- Managerial Potential: Persuasion, enthusiasm, and problem solving.
The NCRC Plus can be earned by taking the WorkKeys® Talent assessment.
The foundational cognitive and soft skills measured by the NCRC and the NCRC Plus are known to be essential for workplace success and career advancement by many employers.
Visit nationalcareerreadiness.org to learn more about the power of the NCRC and NCRC Plus to help:
- Career Seekers: Provide employers with verifiable evidence of their job skills;
- Employers: Screen applicants and find the right workers for jobs at all levels, as well as make decisions about training and advancement of current employees;
- Educators: Ensure that their students are ready for meaningful careers;
- Industry Associations: Adopt the NCRC as the foundational credential of their skills certification systems
- Workforce Developers: Help to supply employers with workers possessing the necessary skills to meet demand; and
- Economic Developers: Inform businesses’ decisions about where to locate or expand by demonstrating the skill level of regional labor sheds
distribution industry that is aligned with the entry-level needs of the nuclear power industry. The NEI also has developed an industry-recognized standard curriculum, as well as a partnership that recognizes the educational institutions providing this curriculum, which is aligned to the competency model and to the current or expected demand of the nuclear power sector.
The Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program (NUCP) is an excellent model of industry–education collaboration. It has produced an industry guideline for an associate’s degree program that clearly defines the competencies required, and has developed a curriculum that ensures consistency among educational institution programs. Forty-three community colleges across the United States are participating in the program. Several have had graduating classes that have
FIGURE 7.5 Energy Competency Model: Generation, transmission, and distribution. SOURCE: CEWD (2010, p. 2).
included a quick transition from curriculum completion and industry internships into nuclear industry jobs.3
The CEWD Energy Competency Model offers a consistent definition of the competencies needed for work in the energy industry (see Figure 7.5). It aligns with the NUCP and builds from basic skills to more industry- and career-specific competencies (CEWD, 2010). Using the model, educational programs will provide industry-accepted, stackable, transferable credentials. Also, the CEWD has developed the Energy Industry Fundamentals Certificate Program that matches with Tiers 4 and 5 of the model; its courses are offered through an Approved Course Provider system (including high schools, community colleges, and other institutions; CEWD, 2012a).
The CEWD, supported by the electric utilities and nuclear sector, has focused its primary efforts on in-demand skills and jobs in the occupations of line workers, natural gas technicians and service technicians, transmission and distribution technicians, and nonnuclear power plant technicians and operators (CEWD, 2012b). Their development and deployment of education pathways, aligned to industry skills requirements and available jobs, are industry-driven and advanced by state teams impacting secondary and postsecondary education.
The Employment and Training Administration (ETA), a division of the Department of Labor, worked with subject matter experts from the DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, NREL, NSF, educational institutions,
3 Additional information on nuclear education programs is available at: http://www.nei.org/careersandeducation/educationandresources/education.
and industry groups (such as NABCEP and IREC) to develop a competency model for renewable energy. The Renewable Energy Competency Model4 was launched to the Competency Model Clearinghouse5 in September 2012.
The only other energy sector that has effectively researched and designed its competency model to allow for alignment of educational programming to industry requirements is the solar sector. Substantial work in this sector is discussed in the Solar Energy section of Chapter 3.
While many of the energy workforce needs can be fulfilled with education at the community college level, there is still a strong need for specialized higher-education programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, especially in the areas of mining, petroleum engineering, and geosciences. These programs currently reside in traditional bachelor’s engineering and science programs at specialized universities, such as the Colorado School of Mines, and new emerging programs, such as Professional Science Master’s programs (see Box 7.2).
An adequate supply of capable and creative scientists and engineers from universities is an essential component of any strategy to ensure that the United States remains an international leader in technology. Scientists and engineers provide much of the innovation from which high-quality products and jobs can develop to keep the U.S. competitive in the global marketplace.
Currently, the United States is failing to meet this challenge. The National Academy of Engineering recently noted that only 4.5 percent of university graduates obtain degrees in engineering, compared with 21 percent in Asia (Vest, 2011). Also, the 2010 update to the now classic Gathering Storm study, concluded that the nation’s competitive outlook has worsened since 2005, when Gathering Storm issued its call to strengthen K-12 education and double the federal basic-research budget (NAS/NAE/IOM, 2007, 2010). The update report also notes that, in 2009, 51 percent of U.S. patents were awarded to non-U.S. companies. China has replaced the United States as the world’s number one high-technology exporter and is now second in the world in publication of biomedical research articles (NAS/NAE/IOM, 2010).
The update report further notes that, historically, and especially since the end of World War II, the United States has relied on enhancing the pool of U.S. scientists and engineers with colleagues from other countries, many of whom came as graduate students and stayed, either in industry or as faculty at U.S. universities
4 The Renewable Energy Competency Model is available at http://www.careeronestop.org/CompetencyModel/pyramid.aspx?RE=Y
The Professional Science Master’s Degree
The Professional Science Master’s (PSM) is a 2-year graduate degree that is designed to combine intensive high-level education in science, engineering, or mathematics fields with business skills, such as financial and project management, communication, statistics, ethics, intellectual property, and regulatory affairs. The design of these programs draws upon advice from employers, with the goal of preparing students for a wide variety of career options that meet the needs of nonacademic employers, including industry, government, and the nonprofit sector. The PSM has been strongly supported by numerous employers and universities, and its rapid expansion around the country in recent years means there are now 244 PSM degree programs at 114 campuses.
In a recent report on the PSM (BHEF, 2011) the Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF) described the PSM as “a truly significant development” that creates “a new and much needed bridge between employers and potential employees who have both advanced education in critical disciplinary areas and training in management, communication, and related skills that will enable them to readily apply that knowledge effectively in business settings.” It continues:
“…Every corporation seeking to recruit STEM talent should develop a strategy that integrates students from these professional programs to fill its needs for skills in the workplace. Corporations should support their employees’ participation in PSM programs through tuition assistance or reimbursements. Businesses should incorporate programs leading to these new professional degrees in their research collaborations with universities. They should retool their recruiting practices to ensure that they draw from the advanced talent and training that professional graduate-level programs produce.”
Details on the more than 200 PSM degree programs around the country are readily available at www.sciencemasters.com.
and colleges. Most became U.S. citizens and many have risen to leadership positions.6 This pool is drying up, due primarily to two changes over the last decade:
- More restrictive H1-B visa procedures that prevent U.S.-based companies from hiring foreign citizens have been introduced. Intended to provide greater opportunities for U.S. scientists and engineers, these procedures are actually counterproductive. Facing a shortage of qualified U.S. citizens, companies resort to creating branches overseas, and maintaining communications via the internet (with periodic visits and exchanges with the overseas offices) in order to develop a single global corporate
6 More than 25 percent of the members of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering were not born in the U.S.
community. The only negative effect is that fewer of the supporting staff are U.S. citizens. The restrictive visa regulations are self-defeating.
- The rapid development of economies in Asia and South America is attracting scientists and engineers, many educated in the United States, to return to their native lands. In past decades, many from these regions opted to stay in the United States, and they have contributed substantially to U.S. international leadership in many areas of science and engineering.
The National Academy of Engineering is making vigorous efforts to stimulate greater public awareness of the role of engineering, and to develop stronger STEM courses in the K-12 curriculum, in order to increase the supply of U.S. scientists and engineers. Particular attention is being given to increasing participation by currently underrepresented minorities and women. Increasing scholarship support is critically important to offset rapidly rising tuition costs, especially for students from lower-income families.
The preceding discussion focused on science and engineering education in general. Mining engineering has several additional issues that warrant special consideration.
Most of the public is unaware of the fundamental dependence of the U.S. economy on minerals (discussed in the Mining section of Chapter 2). The 2009 decision by China to restrict exports of rare earth minerals, of which it is currently the sole producer, provided a dramatic example when it was realized that these minerals are essential to much of the high-technology industry7 (see Box 2.7). Also, in contrast to hydrocarbon energy resources, there are essentially no alternatives to minerals.8
The public perception of mining in the United States is that of a mature and environmentally damaging industry that requires intensive regulation and control (to prevent problems such as pollution, noise, environmental degradation, and health issues, for example). One result of this image has been a decline in university enrollments in mining engineering. As illustrated by Figure 2.29 and the related discussion, approximately 70 percent of the industry’s technical leaders will reach retirement age within 10 to 15 years, with few experienced engineers available to replace them. University programs in mining engineering
7“Prized for their magnetism, luminescence and strength, rare earths are used by manufacturers of everything from smart phones to hybrid cars and wind turbines, but the elements occur together in the earth in different proportions and the separation process is complex and expensive.” (Prentice, 2011).
8 Substitution of one mineral for another is sometimes possible (e.g., plastics—derived from hydrocarbon minerals—can replace some metallic minerals) and others can be recycled, but the demand for minerals worldwide is growing as populations expand.
are also small, and almost all faculty will need to be replaced within the next decade or less. Several leading universities have eliminated mining engineering.9 Enrollments in South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe have not followed this trend, and these regions have an adequate supply of mining engineers.
The erosion of technological leadership has serious implications for the United States. Minerals are essential to the economy, yet many critical minerals must be imported. How can the United States retain a significant influence to ensure an adequate supply of minerals? Reducing obstacles to development of domestic sources may be a possibility for some minerals, but others are either unavailable or cannot be mined economically in the United States.
One possible option is for U.S. universities to develop graduate research programs with a goal of establishing technological leadership in mining. In contrast to petroleum companies, the mining industry10 has been dominated by relatively small enterprises, and has not had a strong industrial R&D tradition. This is changing rapidly as the industry consolidates and several major international mining groups emerge. Mining projects are becoming larger and technically more challenging, extending well beyond current technology. Industrial R&D is needed. Mining companies will need to establish in-house R&D groups, composed of research teams incorporating a variety of science and engineering disciplines.
The research will require input from a broad range of disciplines. In 2006, the National Academy of Engineering introduced the name “Earth Resources Engineering” in recognition of the fact that the technologies traditionally associated with the classical extractive industries (petroleum, mining, and geological engineering) are now finding application to an increasing variety of “subsurface engineering” activities. The umbrella term was introduced to cover this broader activity (see Box 7.3).
These developments suggest some steps that could begin to correct this serious decline in U.S. mining technological capability, and apply the best technologies available to the entire spectrum of current earth resources engineering activities. It is imperative that all engineering development of the subsurface protect the environment and public health and safety. Establishment of a federally funded 21st century version of the U.S. Bureau of Mines could serve this role, and contribute to the advance of technology.
Establishment of several interdisciplinary graduate Centers of Excellence in Earth Resources Engineering at leading U.S. research universities could help
9 A similar trend has been followed in Australia, Canada, and Western Europe over the same period.
10 There are industrial research laboratories in mineral processing. The Mining Research Laboratory of the South African Chamber of Mines, an international leader in mining research for several decades, has scaled back its research program substantially over the past decade. Innovation in mining equipment has been achieved by suppliers. Government mining research laboratories in Western Europe and the United States made important advances in the second half of the last century, but all are now closed.
focus attention on the exciting science and engineering challenges presented by these industries and develop the professional expertise that will be needed by industry. These centers would complement the more classical programs of the U.S. schools of mines—some of which may establish such Centers of Excellence, either alone or with other universities. By establishing such centers now, the United States could become a technological leader in mining engineering, and thereby help ensure that it continues to play a leadership role in international mining.
Universities or schools of mines with the appropriate faculty expertise could develop intensive 1-year master’s programs, designed to prepare graduates from other engineering disciplines for a career in the mineral industries. This could provide qualified personnel more rapidly than attempts to expand enrollments into undergraduate mining degree programs.
Stimulated by the report, Grand Challenges in Engineering11 (NAE, 2010), the Earth Resources Engineering section of the NAE in 2010 defined several grand challenges in earth resource engineering. They are examples of the topics that could be studied at these centers. They are making the Earth transparent, quantifying subsurface processes, achieving minimally invasive extraction, and protecting people and the environment. The first challenge involves the ability to “see” several meters or more into rock in real time.12 The second is for better understanding the thermo–hydro–mechanical–chemical reactions and interactions that occur when fluids circulate through hot rock at depth. This is key to effective extraction of geothermal energy, to extracting minerals via boreholes at depth (part of the third challenge), and to understanding the origin of ore deposits. The fourth challenge recognizes that minerals production must be consistent with environmental protection. These are a few examples among many.13 The report Evolutionary and Revolutionary Technologies for Mining (NRC, 2002) provides additional examples.
11 NAE President Charles Vest defined a “Grand Challenge” as one that is “visionary, but doable with the right influx of work and resources over the next few decades”—a challenge that, if met, would be “game-changing” and have a “transformative” effect on technology.
12 Lockheed-Martin has introduced a system for communicating through rock (two-way text and voice communications to a depth of 1,550 ft and two-way text communications in excess of 1,550 feet [http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/mst/features/110721-emergency-mining-communication-systemapproved-.html)]. The Canadian National Physics Laboratory TRIUMF has used cosmic ray muons to identify ore bodies (http://www.aapsinc.com/technologies/detector-and-imaging-technology/geophysical-exploration/).
13 Application of the impressive advances in directional drilling of deep boreholes for petroleum extraction to certain other subsurface engineering applications must address the very challenging problems of drilling in hard rock.
Earth Resources Engineering
“Engineering applied to the discovery, development and environmentally responsible production of subsurface earth resources”a
SOURCE: Fairhurst (2010).
Earth Resource Engineering activities are confined to a very shallow part of the 40- to 700-km-thick lithosphere (Earth’s solid crust). Deepest borehole, ~12 km; deepest mine, ~4 km. Rock pressure increase: Vertical, σv ~ 27 MPa/km; lateral, σh ~ (0.5 -3.0) σv . Pore water pressure, ~10 MPa/km. Rock temperature increase, ~25°C/km depth.
A New Research Frontier
Much of the expertise in subsurface engineering’ resides in the three traditional disciplines of petroleum, mining, and geological engineering, but it is now being applied to a widening variety of engineering uses of the subsurface, as illustrated in the diagram above. Combined with the constant imperative to protect the environment and develop safe, lower-cost methods of extraction, this broad set of applications define the field of Earth Resources Engineering.
Rock in situ is arguably the most complex material encountered in any field of engineering. “Preloaded” by tectonic and gravitational forces, over many, many millions of years, it is deformed and traversed by weakening fractures and other planar discontinuities. Pressures and temperatures increase with depth, presenting severe engineering challenges, especially for development of deep petroleum, geothermal, and mineral resources. Scales, both spatial and temporal, have a major influence on rock mass deformability and strength. Dramatic advances in computer power now allow study of such complexities, but verification of the computer predictions can only be accomplished in the field. The field is the laboratory! Close liaison between researchers and field projects is essential.
Recruitment of Students/Workers
As industry and educators will attest, recruitment into educational pathways leading to energy and mining careers is not a matter of “building them and they
As noted elsewhere in this report, growth in world population and demands for higher living standards require minerals—and innovative, less-costly technologies to extract them from greater depths. And, the United States is already heavily dependent on imports for the minerals essential to maintain the economy.
These challenges come at a time when more than 60 percent of the senior technological leadership in the extractive industries of Australia, Canada, Western Europe, and the United States is about to retire—with few replacements available. International competition for the few graduates is intensifying. The situation for faculty in U.S. universities is similar. A recent statement by the U.S. Department of Energy notes:
Chronic underinvestment in federal R&D in these subsurface disciplines has eroded the nation’s capacity to educate and train the next generation workforce necessary for industry, academia, and government. As a result, the U.S. faces the prospect of ceding its historic leadership role in these disciplines, and thereby undermining its resource security. (U.S. Department of Energy, 2009, sec. 63, Subtitle E, p. 4).”b
The establishment of 5-10 interdisciplinary Centers of Excellence in Earth Resources Engineeringc at leading U.S. research universities would be an excellent (and perhaps the only realistic) way for the United States to begin to reverse this trend and establish itself as a leader in subsurface engineering. These universities have an exceptional tradition of interdisciplinary research in science and engineering.d
With each center focused on some aspect of the spectrum of topics requiring study, they would serve as incubators, jump-starting the development of a robust industry that could solve an array of Earth’s most complex engineering problems, with major benefits to both public and private interests.e
a This title was adopted by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2006 to replace the former title, Petroleum, Mining, and Geological Engineering, in recognition of the widening scope of ‘subsurface engineering’ technologies.
b U.S. Department of Energy. Energy Innovation and Workforce Development (Document END09412): Strengthening Education and Training in the Subsurface Geosciences and Engineering for Energy Development, Section 63, Subtitle E, p. 4, 2009. Available at http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=445ef86d-0ac5-33f1-17f37256a980ad8f (accessed June 26, 2012).
c University Centers of Excellence require funding of around $5 million/year for an initial period of 5 years with a possibility of a further 5-year extension. Funding may be by federal agencies or industry or a combination.
d Opinion of the committee.
e Opinion of the committee.
will come.” Even if educational issues are addressed, other barriers such as cultural and geographic barriers remain.
Addressing the Image Issue
Many career opportunities in industrial sector jobs are not attracting students and transitioning workers because there is not enough career information
and educational “navigation-to-the-jobs” information available. Engagement and recruitment strategies that address this and mitigate negative images of the industries are needed.
This is clearly true for the manufacturing and energy/mining sectors. The manufacturing industry recognized that the availability of educational pathways to careers is not the whole answer; engaging people in those pathways requires addressing the image of manufacturing. Therefore, the industry is pursuing the “Dream It! Do It!” career recruitment campaign as the public-facing message about high-tech, high-wage careers in the industry (Manufacturing Institute, 2012). The program’s intent is to inform, excite, educate, and employ talent from the next generation.
Dream It! Do It! is a national brand and strategy, deployed locally for programs and marketing to be tailored to the needs of local industry. These local programs are grouped into a library of national resources that documents and shares tools and best practices for other Dream It! Do It! teams to be able to repeat proven initiatives in their communities. These programs include social networking and career navigation games. The Dream It! Do It! networks also engage with leading national youth development organizations to align proven concepts and initiatives.
Energy Sector Campaigns
Similarly, there are several excellent career pathways initiatives that are either state- or industry-specific that could be replicated nationally. For example, the State of Oregon has a user-friendly career pathway Web site that clearly takes students from interest to alignment with appropriate statewide solar and renewable energy programs.14
Targeted Campaigns to Separating Military Personnel
The CEWD is the first partnership among utilities and their associations, contractors, and unions to focus primarily on the need to build a skilled workforce pipeline that meets future industry needs. Troops to Energy Jobs is a new CEWD initiative that is designed to speed up the training of veterans for energy jobs (CEWD, 2011b). Many veterans have the skills and knowledge needed for energy careers thanks to the training and experience they received in military service, but they need a path to jobs and career advancement. Troops to Energy Jobs provides a way for veterans to enter the industry smoothly, regardless of their geographic location or targeted company. The program is in the pilot stage, and it will involve selected utilities, considered as top military employers and operating in states with strong state energy workforce consortia. The intent is to grow the program to include the entire energy industry.
7.1 A high percentage of energy and mining jobs require some education beyond high school, but the majority do not require a 4-year degree. Therefore, the need for higher education, especially at the community college level, is growing.
7.2 A strong foundation in STEM skills is needed for many energy and mining jobs, and the need is increasing as STEM principles are increasingly applied in the workplace.
7.3 The current pipeline of STEM-capable students and workers is inadequate to meet projected future energy and mining workforce demands.
7.4 Many of the solutions needed to address the educational demands of the increasingly technical energy and mining jobs will go beyond the current educational structures.
7.5 Innovative curricula delivered in nontraditional formats and pedagogies (e.g., nonlinear or just-in-time) that embed STEM concepts in contextualized examples (e.g., technology-enabled, skills-based competency delivery) that are rigorous and industry-recognized would enhance the mobility of students into the workforce and enhance industries’ ability to compete globally.
7.6 There also is a strong need for specialized higher education programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, especially in the areas of mining, petroleum engineering, and geology.
7.7 An adequate supply of skilled scientists and engineers from universities is also essential to ensure that the United States remains an international leader in technology. Reliance on workers from other countries to fill the ranks is decreasingly an option.
The following recommendations should be initiated as soon as possible and some will take longer than others to become fully operational. The recommendations are ordered and labeled in terms of when they would be expected to be operational. The recommended actions are expected to continue for the long term.
7.1 Industry, educational leaders, and federal agencies should support the creation of alternative pathways to high school graduation that recognize that many students need project-based learning in order to understand STEM academic principles.
A. These alternative pathways should integrate academic and compe-
tency-based learning methodologies and prepare students for both postsecondary education and the world of work.
B. Because a high percentage of energy and mining jobs require some higher education but the majority do not require a 4-year degree, these educational pathways that integrate academic and technical learning standards and content should extend from high school, through community college programs of study, and into 4-year college and university degree programs.
C. The competency-based learning in these integrated pathways should incorporate the learning content and assessments of nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials.
D. Competencies and career pathways should be developed that cross-map energy and nonenergy skill sets into career lattices to improve student career prospects and improve adoption by community colleges. (Short Term)
7.2 The committee recommends that multiple energy sectors and the mining industry, through their national industry organizations, consider developing their workforces’ competency models and developing and implementing the nationally portable, industry-recognized credentialing (learning standards, learning content/skills certifications) that will guide educators in creating educational pathways to prepare the energy and mining workforce. (Short Term)
7.3 Federal investments in workforce development and career and technical education should give priority to funding programs of study that result in nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials. (Short Term)
7.4 In order to attract students to the educational pathways and workforce development programs that will develop the energy and mining workforce with appropriate skills levels, the committee recommends that the energy and mining industries consider coalescing with government and education leaders in support of a major campaign to engage students and transitioning workers in the educational pathways that lead to energy and mining careers, and consider developing and implementing recruitment and retention strategies to support the energy and mining industries. (Short Term)
7.5 Special efforts should be made to attract separating military men and women whose military occupational specialty aligns closely to civilian skills requirements in the energy and mining industries. (Short Term)
7.6 Industry–education partnerships throughout the education continuum should be made stronger and more comprehensive. These partnerships should, for example, provide direct industry input to education and workforce development programs of study and curricula; offer more
opportunities for work-based learning in internships, particularly earlier internships in the first 2 years of higher education; and expand mentor-ships. (Short Term)
7.7 The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) should consider partnering more effectively with industry to more quickly and accurately reflect the rapid change of job and occupation characteristics and titles as well as the levels of education and training required in 21st century jobs. The BLS also should consider working with industry and the Departments of Education and Labor to better define the STEM technical workforce needed to support STEM professionals in our economy. (Medium Term)
7.8 It is important that the insights provided by the report, Successful K-12 STEM Education, that effective instruction which “…capitalizes on students’ early interest and experiences, identifies and builds on what they know, and provides them with experiences to engage them in the practices of science and sustain their interest” (NRC, 2011, p. 18) be implemented in STEM programs of study. Key elements (also noted in that report) of such implementation should (a) have a coherent set of standards and curriculum, (b) reference current work on the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and science, (c) have teachers with a high capacity to teach in their discipline; (d) have a supportive system of assessment and accountability; (e) allow adequate instructional time; and (f) provide equal access to high-quality STEM learning opportunities. Since the pipeline of STEM-capable students entering energy and mining programs and applying for energy and mining jobs is inadequate to meet projected future workforce demands, the committee recommends the following:
A. That the National Science Foundation and the Departments of Labor, Education, and Energy consider collaborating to facilitate strong partnerships between industry and community colleges that create and support technician-level education;
B. Improved K-12 mathematics preparation, including incentives for 4 years of mathematics in secondary schools, and
C. Mandatory STEM teaching credentials for STEM high school teachers, such as those advanced by UTeach and the NSF Robert Noyce Teaching Scholars. (Medium Term)
7.9 The important and growing role of Professional Science Master’s degrees in meeting high-level energy and mining workforce development needs should be encouraged. (Medium Term)
7.10 Several interdisciplinary graduate Centers of Excellence in Earth Resources Engineering should be established at leading U.S. research universities to help focus attention on the exciting science and engineer-
ing challenges presented by the extractive and subsurface engineering industries, to provide more holistic earth resources curricula, and to develop the STEM professional expertise that will be needed by the mining industry. (Long Term)
7.11 The committee recommends that the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education consider supporting research into transformative models of educational preparation that produce STEM-capable and STEM-literate K-12 students who are ready to seamlessly transfer into the community college and university energy and mining technician and professional programs and into industry apprenticeship programs. The committee also recommends that researchers consider not only core knowledge and skills in STEM, but also the “big ideas” that link the four subject areas (as proposed earlier by NAE/NRC, 2009). Because this relates directly to this report’s differentiation between the STEM professionals and the STEM technical workforce, the committee recommends that the U.S. Department of Labor also consider partnering in this research. It is important that this research supplement but not supplant the important work already under way in developing innovative for-credit higher education workforce programs that meet emerging industry needs. (Long Term)
7.12 Successful practices in math remediation should be accelerated to both advance students’ readiness for postsecondary education and employability and reduce the extraordinary costs of remediation now burdening the entire postsecondary education system. (Long Term)