By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina is in the STEM spotlight.

More than 200 business, government, and education leaders from all over the country heard about North Carolina’s innovative efforts to improve STEM education during a national conference call on Thursday that featured representatives of some of the country’s top organizations.

The hour-long teleconference highlighted a number of STEM education efforts underway throughout the country, and featured several executives representing companies such as Facebook, Monster, Cisco, LinkedIn, Battelle, Northrup Grumman, and more.

A portion of the teleconference highlighted North Carolina efforts and included remarks from U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, and Karl Rectanus, leader of the NC STEM Community Collaborative.

Dalton, chair of the state’s Joining Our Businesses and Schools (JOBS) Commission, told participants that North Carolina’s economy is transforming and citizens understand that education is the engine of that economy.

“Now more than ever we need to be training students for 21st century jobs,” said Dalton. “When the JOBS Commission traveled to each economic development region of the state, the need for increased STEM skills was a consistent concern we heard from businesses looking to fill positions. That’s why North Carolina is developing a STEM strategy.”

Hagan, a member of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said if we are going to change our education system, the major push will come from states like North Carolina.

“We have 400,000 STEM-related jobs – at least half of all new North Carolina jobs will require post-secondary credentials and STEM skills and the STEM job growth rate is 23 percent higher than other sectors – and that’s higher than (the) national average for growth in STEM jobs,” explained Hagan during the call.

STEMconnector, a resource center and network helping to bring together STEM projects around the country with a website of more than 3,000 organizations dedicated to STEM education, hosted the teleconference. The organization also plans to host a national STEM summit next year in Dallas.

Innovate+Educate, a national non-profit led by Fortune 500 companies with a goal of aligning STEM education and workforce efforts on a state-by-state basis, and U.S. News and World Report also helped organize the teleconference.

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