A bipartisan-sponsored bill was unveiled Thursday to help small and medium business offer “returnships” to hire and train mid-career professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math — known as the STEM fields.
According to The Hill, the bill introduced by Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., a computer programmer and systems analyst, and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., would provide $50 million in grants to employers competing for STEM workers — prioritizing businesses looking to hire women, Black and Latino workers and rural residents.
The measure would fund midcareer internships — dubbed “returnships” — for workers who has either left the STEM workforce, or want to transition into the lucrative field, The Hill noted.
The grants would require the internships to be at least 10 weeks with access to mentorship and training.
“Nevada is home to countless innovators, entrepreneurs, and forward-thinking small business owners,” Rosen told The Hill.
“However, particularly during our current economic crisis, we must do more to break down the barriers that too many workers face when re-entering or transitioning into the STEM workforce.”
Hyde-Smith said the measure would especially help women and minority workers, who not only represent a smaller proportion of the engineering workforce but are more likely to leave the field in times of crisis.
“There are any number of reasons many talented people, particularly women, leave their careers for a period of time. We’re proposing a program to aid reentry into the workforce for underrepresented individuals with STEM-related skills,” she told The Hill.
“Our measure would help fulfill a need for qualified workers in small and mid-sized businesses that are driving STEM job growth.”
According to a 2018 Pew Research Center report, Black and Hispanic workers made up 27% of the total U.S. labor force, but only 16% of the STEM workforce. And 52% of STEM workers say poor access to education is a major factor in the lack of diversity
Women make up half of the workforce but 28% of STEM positions, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.