Massachusetts leaders working to increase tech education

Posted by Justin Hesser on October 31, 2014

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is one of the largest tech hubs on the East Coast but, despite the presence of IT companies of all sizes and leading educational institutions, the state is still not producing enough computer scientists to meet the ever-growing demand. The Bay State houses offices of tech giants like Google, Microsoft and the Oracle Corporation, not to mention thousands of startups, and the sector now makes up more than one fifth of the gross domestic product.

According to non-profit, only 2.4 percent of American college graduates are majoring in computer science these days, and the sector is rife with employment opportunities. Now, business and political leaders in Massachusetts are teaming up to raise that percentage.

Governor Deval Patrick launched the Innovation Schools program in 2012 to create special centers with a focus on IT where students in the eighth grade and up have access to cutting-edge technology. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is also in talks with groups to expand tech solutions to all levels of education.

Even MIT can't keep up with the high demand for tech experts.

"In the past few years we have introduced an introductory course for non-majors that enrolls over 200 students," said Worcester Polytechnic Institute computer science head Craig Wills to "We're seeing students recognize the value and importance of learning the material, but it's certainly not required. Courses should be so good that students see the value in taking them."

Software developing companies and other businesses with IT needs are hiring at a record pace, buoyed by the recovering economy and constant technological evolution. Politicians can help their regions become IT leaders by promoting tech education among the younger generations.