General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra hosts a discussion Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at Cadillac House in New York, New York. / Photo by Mike Appleton for General Motors

GM Intensifies Push to Train Young People for Jobs of the Future

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra and nonprofit leaders today introduced new, innovative programs designed to encourage young people to go into technology and engineering professions and improve teacher training in STEM-related subjects.

Noting rapid technological advancements in electrified and self-driving vehicles, cybersecurity and connectivity, Barra said automakers’ futures depend on a deep and diverse pool of talented engineers. Nowhere is this more true than in computer science, where women and minorities make up only a fraction of working professionals. In the U.S., only 18 percent of computer science majors and 10 percent of information security professionals are women.

“We’re in the midst of transforming how our customers get from point A to point B with technology like autonomous vehicles, connectivity, electrification and car sharing. By expanding and improving access to STEM education, we’re developing teachers’ and students’ capabilities and it’s my hope those students become graduates who are equipped to join us in the technical fields required to lead in the future of mobility,” said Barra.

GM selected four new programs and partners using a research-based analysis of various challenges such as teacher shortages and quality of teaching and learning, high attrition rates for underrepresented minorities, low student engagement and inequities and inequalities in STEM education. The programs are in four emerging areas with the potential to drive transformative solutions, and make up what GM calls its STEM Impact Compass:

  • Immersive Learning: hands-on experiences that encourage active participation and drive engagement
  • Computational Thinking: developing analytical, multidisciplinary and transferable skills like problem-solving and experimentation
  • rtificial Intelligence: exploring AI-powered technologies with the potential to facilitate teaching and learning
  • Digitization of Education: using online and digital tools and resources to transform how learning is delivered and experienced inside and outside the classroom

“We need to remove the barriers and address the issues that are preventing young people from pursuing careers in technology and engineering,” said Hina Baloch, GM manager, Global Social Impact and STEM Education. “Our partners bring the innovative thinking we need to ignite more interest in STEM careers and improve STEM education.”

The four new partners and programs announced today are:

  • Led by CEO Hadi Partovi, has enabled 10 percent of K-12 students across the world to try the site’s courses and the Hour of Code. Nine million girlsare learning to code on and 48 percent of online course participants are underrepresented minorities.GM’s support will help train 1,400 computer science teacherswho will teach over 40,000 secondary students across the U.S. duringthe 2017-2018 school year.
  • Black Girls Code Black Girls Code, founded by CEO Kimberly Bryant, is dedicated to increasing the number of women of color in technology careers. GM will help Black Girls Code expand exposure to coding and technology to underrepresented girls in the Detroit area.
  • Institute of Play This New York City-based organization, led by Co-Executive Directors Rebecca Rufo-Tepper and Arana Shapiro, pioneers new models of learning and engagement through the design of learning experiences that are rooted in the principles of game design. The Institute will develop an 8-month professional development fellowship for middle school and high school STEM educators focused on using the power of games, play, and digital tools to transform both teacher practice and student engagement.
  • Digital Promise Led by CEO and former educator Karen Cator, Digital Promise was created to accelerate innovation in education and improve opportunities to learn. GM will support a research study and development of an online micro-credential curriculum for teachers in computational thinking.

In addition to the programs announced today, GM will have committed more than $10 million by the end of the year to advance and improve STEM education. In January, GM and the national nonprofit Girls Who Code announced a partnership to inspire and empower middle and high school girls to pursue technology and engineering degrees through free afterschool activities in schools, universities and community centers. Reshma Saujani, GWC’s CEO and founder, attended today’s announcement.

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