WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, introduced legislation to authorize the Secretary of Defense to carry out a program to enhance the preparation of students in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) for training and education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The Providing Resources and Organization to Maximize Opportunities for Training and Education in STEM (“PROMOTES”) Act is cosponsored by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-N.V.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.). Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and Michael Waltz (R-Fla.).
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted our dire need to decrease our reliance on key foreign imports – including and especially when it comes to technology,” said Senator Blackburn. “Companies across the country are in need of highly skilled workers. This bill will help to grow our STEM workforce to give Tennesseans the training necessary to compete in the 21st century landscape.”
“We must ensure we are preparing our next generation with the skills that reflect the future of our workforce and that are necessary to protect our nation, and that training begins in the classroom,” said Senator Rosen. “This bipartisan legislation will invest much-needed resources to invest in STEM training and education for our JROTC cadets. I will continue working on commonsense legislation that provides critical 21st century educational skills to our armed forces.”
“Increasing access to computer science and digital skills is critical as these skills are needed to succeed in the 21st century economy,” said Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft. “The PROMOTES Act encourages that access to prepare young people enrolled in JROTC for in-demand careers and to address national security needs. The legislation is timely and I commend Senators Rosen, Rounds, Blackburn, and Peters for their leadership.”
“BSA applauds Senators Rosen, Rounds, Blackburn, and Peters for their leadership in introducing the PROMOTES Act. This important legislation will support much needed STEM training and related activities within the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program,” said BSA | The Software Alliance. “The JROTC program seeks to help bridge the gap in access to STEM education at JROTC high schools, which serve a diverse population. The grants authorized by this bill will provide students with skills that are critical for in-demand careers in cybersecurity and other STEM-related fields, boosting the US economy and national security.”
In addition to Microsoft and BSA | The Software Alliance, the PROMOTES Act is also endorsed by the Intel Corporation, CSForALL, College Board, ITI, Code.org, and the Computing Technology Industry Association.
According to the Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17 percent, while other occupations are growing at 9.8 percent. The Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act mandated the “instruction or activities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics” within JROTC.
The PROMOTES Act would:
- Authorize the Secretary of Defense to issue grants to schools for JROTC STEM training and education in order to fund support for instructors, the acquisition of materials, hardware, and software, efforts and events that improve the quality of the educational experience, the development of travel opportunities, mentoring programs, and informal education, and the pursuit of certifications in STEM subjects.
- Encourage cross-coordination between the Department of Defense, Department of Education, National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, other Federal, State, and local government entities, and private sector organizations as the Secretary of Defense determines to be appropriate.
- Require the Secretary of Defense to establish outcome-based metrics and internal and external assessments in order to evaluate the merits and benefits of activities funded with these grants.
The PROMOTES Act is the latest of Senator Blackburn’s bipartisan efforts to promote STEM education and workforce training in high tech fields.
The JROTC Cyber Training Act, which was included in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, enhances the preparation of JROTC students for careers in computer science and cybersecurity. Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport was one of the first schools to benefit from the program.
The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs in America Act would direct the Department of Labor to begin pilot projects between local community colleges, state and tribal colleges, local boards, advanced manufacturers, and Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers in order to facilitate education and training programs in the field of advanced manufacturing.