PHOENIX – Students and workers trained in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are increasingly critical to DOE programs that are challenged to maintain technically skilled workforces, EM Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Shrader told an audience at the Waste Management Symposia.
Shrader said workers in STEM professions have a good chance to make their mark in EM, which projects big accomplishments over the next decade at its 16 cleanup sites across the DOE complex.
“We are trying to make significant progress over the next 10 years that is going to create tremendous opportunity for the next generation coming in behind us,” he said. “Workers in the STEM field are vital to our mission.”
The EM official was keynote speaker at a STEM/DOE Workforce Initiative Summit held at the waste management conference. The summit brought together government, labor, and corporate experts to discuss best practices in recruiting, developing, and retaining talented and diverse workforces in the STEM fields.
Shrader noted employment in STEM occupations has grown 79 percent since 1990 — from 9.7 million to 17.3 million jobs. At DOE, the average grade of workers in STEM fields like information technology, engineering, or physical sciences is GS-13, earning an average $127,000 annually.
Still, the government needs to add thousands of new engineers each year just to keep pace with its needs.
Shrader outlined a variety of EM initiatives that aim to spark STEM interest in young students. At cleanup sites, these include science bowls, job shadowing opportunities, and family science days.
On the university level, EM’s partnership with the Applied Research Center at Florida International University has provided support through a cooperative agreement. EM also participates in the Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program that combines technical research with internships. For graduate students, EM traineeships are developed in partnership with the national laboratories.
Shrader said energy professionals “need to get out talking about the exciting possibilities, the exciting work, the career opportunities for engineers and scientists of the future, the students of today. I’m always encouraged when I see companies doing more and more of that, and the national labs. Certainly on the federal government side, we are trying to do that.”
“At the end of the day, EM is working really hard to nurture the STEM areas, to advance the STEM areas,” Shrader said.