Help Wanted: The GPS Industry’s Call for the Best & Brightest
By: J. David Grossman, Executive Director, GPS Innovation Alliance
June 17, 2019
The men and women employed by the GPS industry are of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds and ages. Our workforce comes from rural and urban communities. Some have degrees from elite universities, while others have completed study at a trade school. In sum, they are the fabric of America.
Like most high-tech businesses, GPS companies urgently require more candidates with backgrounds in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). According to a report from the Pew Research Center, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79% since 1990. Yet last year, it was estimated that 2.4 million STEM-related jobs would go unfilled.
The GPS Innovation Alliance (GPSIA) is actively working to change this narrative with its recent endorsement of the bipartisan Startup Act (S.328). Introduced by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mark Warner (D-VA), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the legislation promotes a strong 21st century workforce through job creation and entrepreneurial activity.
Among the legislation’s key provisions is the creation of entrepreneur and STEM visas for highly-educated individuals. The bill also reauthorizes and modernizes the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Program; accelerates the commercialization of university research; and eliminates the per-country caps for employment-based visas. GPSIA is proud to support the Startup Act and will continue to advocate for its passage.
GPSIA member companies also recognize that they have a direct role to play in building a pipeline for the next generation of innovators right here in the United States. John Deere Inspire, for example, is doing just that. Partnering with programs like FIRST, Project Lead The Way and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, John Deere is preparing middle and high school students for the jobs of the future.
Similarly, Garmin, another GPSIA founding member, has established the Garmin Engineering Day Camp, a summer program geared towards giving freshmen and sophomore high school students a first-hand perspective on electrical, mechanical and software engineering. Garmin also recently hosted its first Garmin Educators Summit, as a way to get teachers excited about teaching STEM.
Finally, thanks to the efforts of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based PNT, the U.S. government has its own GPS-based STEM initiative. Using GPS concepts and applications, the free curriculum, developed for middle and high school students, provides more than 50 hours of classroom time.
We all benefit from a workforce that is diverse and highly educated. GPSIA stands ready to work with Congress as well as other industry stakeholders to advance the policies and programs needed to make this goal a reality.