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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Michigan celebrates Computer Science Education Week, highlights STEM education paths to high-demand careers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaims December 6-12 as Computer Science Education Week in Michigan, recognizing computer science as a 21st-century skill

December 6, 2021
Media Contact:Beata Kica, 517-614-9773

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed December 6-12 as Computer Science Education Week in Michigan, with a call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity in computer science education and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers and partners in the field. This week also recognizes Michigan's growing need for highly skilled workers in computer science career fields.

According to the 2021 State of Computer Science Education report, there were almost 15,000 open computing jobs, which is over 2.6 times the state average demand rate and an average salary of over $80,000, yet there were only 2,467 graduates in computer science in 2018. Through 2024, Michigan is expected to grow over 270,670 IT/computer science jobs, an estimated $20.8 billion in wage growth. 

"We are constantly evaluating how we can better prepare our students for the jobs of the future. As we work on better attracting and retaining our talent right here in Michigan, a focus on filling computer science and other STEM jobs will be critical," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "Creating a diverse pipeline of students with computer science skills is critical to our state's economic future."

Earlier this year, The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) invested $1.5 million in placing Michigan STEM college students in internships at start-ups across Michigan. The program is facing tremendous demand and can be scaled up over the next three years to address this skills gap. 

"Advancing computer science and other STEM opportunities is inextricably linked to Michigan's commitment to building a more prosperous, equitable economy," said Quentin Messer, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. "As Michigan continues to build a world-class talent pool and foster a competitive business climate, we need to ensure that our students have the opportunity to grow the skills needed to fill these critical job openings right here in Michigan."  

As the foundation for all computing, computer science is defined as the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, hardware and software designs, their implementation and impact on society. Computer science helps students develop computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies.

The MiSTEM Advisory Council, charged with setting a strategic vision for STEM in Michigan, recently released their 2021 Annual Report that listed the elevation of computer science as one of their top priorities for moving Michigan forward in 2022. This includes providing access to programming, which will help an entire pipeline of students find achievement and success in high-demand, high-wage careers of tomorrow.

"Computer science is an important component in strengthening education models in Michigan and preparing students for careers of the future," said Megan Schrauben, director of the MiSTEM Network. "These courses equip students with skills that will continue to take precedence in the rapidly changing economy."

Work in this space is already underway. The Upper Peninsula Cybersecurity Consortium, convened by Northern Michigan University (NMU) in collaboration with industry and education partners, including MiSTEM's 906-Central Region, is working to develop cybersecurity talent pipelines through enhanced education and training initiatives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (U.P.). The consortium brings cybersecurity courses, curriculum creation, professional development for teachers, stipends for industry mentors and equipment to several K-12 school districts throughout the U.P.

A piece of that effort includes coordinating a large-scale event to invite students and teachers to experience a Cybersecurity Day, where they can connect with businesses and young professionals in the field to create connections and pursue future career opportunities in cybersecurity.

"With a record number of job openings projected in cybersecurity and other computer science related fields, we're excited to expose students to concrete training and education opportunities to help them launch great careers in these high-demand fields," said Doug Miller, director of NMU's U.P. Cybersecurity Institute.

Last week, the Michigan K-12 Computer Science Professional Learning Network hosted the second annual Computer Science Education Leadership Summit, a virtual gathering of stakeholders and leaders who discussed how to support Michigan schools as they continue to implement computer science education to better prepare students for the growing array of in-demand careers in the field. The full event and discussion are available online.

Michigan employers can join the effort to prepare today's students by partnering with local schools to expand student learning and provide real-life experience and insight into these careers by:

  • Providing role models so students can see themselves in the field.
  • Providing hands-on experiences so students can better understand what computer science is all about.
  • Providing work-based apprenticeships and internships through career and technical education programs and high school courses.
  • Volunteering with organizations that support student growth in computer science learning and careers.
  • Providing work-based educator externships or learning experiences about their industry.

To learn more about how Computer Science Education Week, check out hourofcode.com for activities to get students excited about computer science. 

Learn more about the way MiSTEM is preparing students for vital careers of the future at Michigan.gov/MiSTEM.