When Glady Baez came to her Vertex Pharmaceuticals internship as a high school junior, she was uncertain of her future. While she was interested in science and business, she didn’t know the range of career options possible.
During Glady’s paid internship at Vertex, she and her class of 30 high school interns worked alongside scientists steeped in research on cystic fibrosis and other diseases. The experience sparked her imagination in science and propelled her down a track that, three years later, has her feet firmly planted as a biology major at UMass Boston. She is the first in her family to go to college.
Glady’s internship at one of the nation’s most dynamic biotech companies opened doors too often closed to high school students, especially females and students of color. The dearth of similar opportunities not only prevents promising young people from excelling in deeply rewarding careers, it stymies our economic growth.
Keeping Massachusetts competitive requires a workforce that excels in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. More than 40 percent of the Commonwealth’s economy centers on jobs in STEM fields, including advanced manufacturing, information technology, and biotech.
Massachusetts has more open positions in these fields than employees to fill them, a void that threatens our economic drivers. Industry analysts and CEOs repeatedly identify this gap as the single greatest challenge facing the Commonwealth’s STEM economy.
Massachusetts isn’t alone. Across the country, states with strong technology, biotech, medical, and engineering economies struggle to provide employers with educated, work-ready employees. And STEM readiness has global implications: There is an international race to create a highly skilled workforce capable of driving an increasingly innovation-centered world.
That is why it’s so important that students like Glady have opportunities to learn about STEM careers. And that is why we’re making a simple but powerful ask of Massachusetts businesses: Hire at least one high school student for a STEM internship.