United States Senators including Alex Padilla, Cory Booker, and Jeff Markley, and others urged the Institute of Education Science (IES) and National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve access to high-quality K-12 data science education in the country.
The group also raised questions about how the government can help improve the data science curriculum in the country and widely deploy them to enable more individuals to make careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) industries. They wrote the letter to better understand the strategy of Congress to support students so that they can keep up with the 21st-century technology-driven world.
The letter mentioned, “Enhancing data science education will have significant benefits for our nation’s citizenry and economy. Like reading, writing, and arithmetic, basic data literacy is vital for informed democratic participation.”
It further added that the senators are witnessing an increased demand for data science talents in the market that needs to be catered to for providing better career opportunities to students and workers.
According to a research conducted by the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), 69% of businesses prefer candidates who have data science skills to be hired in their organizations. However, educational institutes said that only 25% of individuals possess those necessary skills.
US senators urged IES and NSF to provide their past and existing plans for enhancing unbiased access to data science education and careers. Senators also asked the institutions to describe their efforts to increase research in the data science domain.
The African American and Latinos communities occupy six and seven percent of STEM jobs, respectively. The government needs to boost its efforts in order to provide more exposure and relevant education to these communities for increasing their employability.
“Moreover, as we learn more about how artificial intelligence algorithms may be coded with implicit biases, it is critical that we foster a diverse data science workforce that will work toward development of more equitable technologies,” mentioned the letter.