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Conference Rationale

The United States faces a shortage of skilled technical workers in occupations that require a high
level of mathematical knowledge and skills but do not require a baccalaureate degree. There are
324,000 open factory jobs nationwide, but executives responsible for filling those vacancies
report that many applicants lack the requisite mathematics skills they need to understand
technical manuals (LA Times, February 23, 2017). Employers also find that entry-level recruits are
often unclear on what math to use when confronted with specific challenges in the workplace,
even when the concepts are familiar to them.

The Needed Math Conference will take a first step toward eliminating the mismatch between the
math that is taught in grades 6-14, the math that is learned and assessed, and the math that is needed in critical
technical careers in STEM workplaces.

It will bring together three groups of experts to identify the mathematics concepts and skills that
are pre-requisites for education and employment of technicians in STEM-related careers:

  • mathematics educators and researchers
  • community college technical faculty
  • STEM employers in biotechnology, information/communication technology, and
    advanced manufacturing.

The charge to the conference participants is to:

  1. Characterize specific math skills that employers in the three domains require of their
    technicians
  2. Identify the unifying math concepts that underlie those skills and ascertain whether/where
    they are taught and assessed in grades 6-14
  3. Propose actions to take to teach the concepts effectively to students in those grades
  4. synthesize the findings and recommendations in online and print materials
  5. Disseminate the materials to a wide audience in a variety of venues and formats.

Needed Math will provide guidance to various groups of stakeholders with respect to math
teaching and learning in support of developing and sustaining a diverse workforce of skilled
technical professionals.