New Legislation Aims to Close Computer Science Workforce Gap

In Uncategorizedby edckcadmin

Wouldn’t it be great if all students learned computer science along with reading and math? New legislation passed in Missouri ensures just that. The legislation expands computer science education for students in Kindergarten through high school by requiring the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to develop standards for computer science education for the state of Missouri.

Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, high school students will be allowed to take computer science classes to fulfill their math and science graduation requirements, computer science will be taught in elementary schools and teachers will be offered a computer science certification. In addition, the new law:

  • Establishes new computer science standards and curriculum guidelines.
  • Creates a fund to help train computer science teachers.
  • Brings an online program to Missouri that showcases computer science careers to students.
  • Creates a certification for computer science teachers.

The legislation strives to close the gap between computer science jobs open and qualified workers. According to the KC Tech Council, in Kansas City, there were more than 4,000 computer science job openings at the beginning of 2017 and the industry is growing faster than any other segment except healthcare. In addition, the industry is responsible for more than 93,000 local jobs and 9.5 percent of the economy.

The legislation was included in House Bill 1623, sponsored by Rep. Travis Fitzwater, a Republican from Holts Summit. The Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 894, was sponsored by Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican from Poplar Bluff, and Sen. John Rizzo, a Democrat from Kansas City. In addition, numerous organizations advocated for the legislation including the KC Tech Council, LaunchCode, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, Boeing, STEM Girl Inc, Missouri National Education Association, Missouri State Teachers Association, Missouri Association of School Administrators and Missouri School Board Association.

This legislative focus is in alignment with the City’s initiatives as well. For example, technology is one of the targeted industry sectors outlined in the AdvanceKC initiative, the City’s strategic blueprint for the future. In addition, in fiscal year 2018, EDC plans to enhance its marketing efforts to those sectors, including technology. Increased, targeted outreach is intended to raise awareness of Kansas City as a leading market for tech and attract more tech companies and workers to the city.