Hatch and STEM

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Thomas Burr's "Hatch bill seeks immigrants' DNA" (Tribune, May 7) covers many important amendments that Sen. Orrin Hatch proposed last week, but it did not detail one very important amendment that deserves more attention.

Hatch jointly filed a bipartisan amendment that would increase existing fees on companies that hire foreign workers to fill vacant high-skilled positions, which employers would happily do. Those fees would be used to establish a national fund to help Utah and other states strengthen science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

The amendment would address our skilled labor needs in two ways. First, it raises the number of visas available for badly needed high-skill workers. Second, it helps fund the education of our own young people so that down the road they can fill these well-paid jobs. And it does it without tax dollars!

Nearly a million jobs will open in STEM-related fields by 2018. Yet only 16 percent of U.S. bachelor's degrees are awarded to STEM graduates. Hatch is right to recognize the necessity of investing in training more students in STEM disciplines.

Sen. Howard Stephenson Utah Senate District 11