Governor Rick Scott brought his statewide push to add more funding for STEM courses, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, to Pensacola Monday morning. The funding is part of Scott’s “Keep Florida Working” initiative.
Speaking to a crowd of elected officials, scientists and students at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, the Governor said that he’s asking lawmakers for $1 million in STEM funding for kindergarten through high school.
Scott says in the past four years, there’s been growth in significant opportunities for those who earn degrees in the four STEM subjects.
“A lot of those 269,000 job openings we have in the state right now are in the STEM arena,” said Scott. “As we get more people educated in the STEM arena, we’re going to get more and more and more jobs. And they’re good paying jobs.”
State Rep. Clay Ingram (R-Pensacola), who serves on the House Education, Appropriations, and Joint Legislative Budget Commission, says the “brain drain," educated people going to work and live elsewhere, has hit Pensacola especially hard.
“We obviously have talent, but if we can’t keep those brains here, and that academic talent here, then we’re really dropping the ball.”
Also on hand was Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas, whose district operates 57 career academies in middle and high schools that provide training in the STEM subjects.
“We can all talk about what we want for our children and grandchildren,” said Thomas. “But at the end of the day we all want the same thing. We want them to have a job, and we want them to go into a field that will make work not work, but make it fun and meaningful.”
Scott's budget proposal will be considered by lawmakers this spring as they draw up a final spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. Governor Scott has announced at similar events around the state that 16 companies have agreed to take part, including Gulf Power and IHMC.