HOUSTON, Dec. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — As part of alliantgroup’s recent Technology, Economic, Legislative & Policy Summit, the firm hosted an executive roundtable featuring a number of respected industry alliance heads and some of the foremost thought leaders in the area of technology and economic policy. During this open “town hall” style forum, executives from around the country were given the opportunity to discuss the most pressing issues facing their industries and the American economy.

During the event, a reoccurring theme highlighted by the panel and echoed by those in attendance was the nation’s emerging skills gap in the area of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and its long-term economic consequences. Drawing a link between decreased economic growth and productivity to the current shortage of technical talent in the workforce, the panel questioned how the U.S. could remain competitive if the labor pool lacked the skills needed to compete in an increasingly technology-centered economy.

“Talent is one of the handful of the most critical issues that CEOs and boards consider as they think about how to strategically position their company for the future,” said Rick Lazio, former U.S. Congressman and alliantgroup Senior Vice President. “It’s a big deal, both in terms of the people who develop products and have the technical and scientific background to do (the work) and how people get things to market.”

In order to ensure sustainable economic growth, the panel agreed that major policy reforms are needed to train the next generation of American workers. However, the role that government should play in addressing this issue was a key theme debated throughout the session. Some attendees advocated for greater federal support while others, such as former Alabama Governor Bob Riley, argued that even though a degree of government assistance might be impactful, ultimately the private sector should take the lead in training (and in many instances, retraining) workers. Innovative U.S. businesses are the entities that are creating these new jobs, and as such, it would follow that they would be the most qualified to lead the training process—be it through private-public apprenticeships or other relevant industry training programs.

During the session, the heads of various industry organizations elaborated on their own challenges in finding, recruiting and training qualified technical workers. In particular, Chuck Wilson, the Executive Director of the National Systems Contractors Association, highlighted NSCA’s Ignite initiative, a program that focuses on sparking interest in technology at a young age—particularly in fields such as automation, the Internet of Things, virtual reality and integration—areas that will be vital to the future of the American economy. In particular, Wilson highlighted Ignite’s outreach initiatives to public schools as well as NSCA’s broader efforts in spreading the word on these high-paying jobs.

“We actually decided to quit talking about how underserved we are with talent coming into the industry and to do something about it,” said Wilson. “The people that are posting these jobs now are doing well finding talented people from other adjacent technology systems.”

While such private sector and industry based initiatives will serve as vital recruiting tools going forward, the panel recognized that the technical talent shortage will only ultimately be addressed by making significant reforms in the education system. Specifically, the panel emphasized the necessity in making STEM-based education a priority in primary education and at American colleges and universities. With technology becoming more a part of the very fabricate of our offices and facilities, the need for STEM-based skills will only increase in the future—and the U.S. at the moment is lagging behind other countries in teaching these skills to our youth. During the roundtable, alliantgroup CEO Dhaval Jadav noted that the United States graduates only around 70,000 engineers a year, a number that lags behind the 600,000 and 300,000 China and India graduate respectively on an annual basis. In order for the U.S. to remain competitive, the nation will need to reform the education system to combat this trend. According to those in attendance, this would include not only increasing the emphasis placed on STEM education, but also encouraging students to attend two year technical programs and other alternatives to a traditional four year college.

To illustrate his firm’s commitment to advancing STEM at home, Jadav discussed alliantgroup’s various charitable endeavors centered around the company’s non-profit charity—the Blue Heart Fund. Through the fund, alliantgroup has been reaching out to school districts across Houston to ensure students are exposed to STEM at a young age, even going so far as to take students from a local elementary school to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. In addition to promoting STEM education in K-12 schools, the firm recently announced that it would be handing out 20 $10,000 scholarships to the children of alliantgroup’s CPA and industry partners interested in pursuing a career in STEM.

“My passion for STEM runs deep,” said alliantgroup CEO Dhaval Jadav. “The only way we can create a better future for our kids is by making sure they learn the skills needed to be successful in the emerging economy. That will ultimately be the key in ensuring economic progress and prosperity for future generations.”

alliantgroup is a leading tax consultancy and the nation’s premier provider of specialty tax services. The firm assists U.S. businesses and their CPA advisors in properly identifying and claiming all federal and state tax incentives that were designed for their benefit. These incentive programs were created to help American businesses grow and remain competitive in an increasingly global economy. To date, alliantgroup has helped 12,000 U.S. businesses claim over $6 billion in tax savings. For more information on alliantgroup, please follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.