Calling all scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and educators. Nonprofit organization Invest Again has launched a campaign to protect and promote increased US federal funding for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and they want your help.
Invest Again's agenda, according to a recent press release they sent me, includes using:
...contemporary and past successes in science and innovation to spark public awareness and support for federal investment in the sciences, and to hold elected leaders accountable for protecting and prioritizing innovation in national budgets. A rededication to scientific innovation creates a massive opportunity for job creation and economic resurgence, while also preparing and inspiring Americans for the jobs and fields that will sustain the world's economic future.
Federal funding for basic research and development has been cut to historic lows and has decreased by 16% since 2010, according to the organization, citing numbers from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. An additional $95 billion is at risk in the upcoming round of sequestration debates, it added.
Eleiza Braun, co-director of Invest Again, said in a statement:
We launched Invest Again because it's time to reassert our global leadership and dedication to innovation, so that our children are inspired by science and our economy can benefit from advancements in STEM fields. There's a reason that NASA generated seven dollars of economic output for every dollar the agency spent. Exploration is good for morale and innovation is good for the bottom line.
We've seen these kinds of efforts before. Remember the big push to get more kids to pursue engineering careers a handful of years ago, and the ongoing campaign to get more girls engaged in science and math programs? And, while I am not advocating for or against this particular campaign (I don't know enough about them yet), it's not a bad idea to rally support for things that usually get left behind on the budget-cutting floor when times are tight, which are things like innovation-focused initiatives and research and development.
But, here's something innovative. Maybe we should we start a similar campaign to spark interest in the supply chain and logistics fields. There's a significant gap between available supply chain and logistics talent and the growing demand for these skills, and many companies are seeing this as an important risk consideration. EBN touched on the talent gap issue here, and we'll be digging deeper into the topic in an upcoming issue of the Velocity e-zine.
In reporting that feature story, several executives suggested that more effort needed to be made in creating awareness about the pivotal role supply chain and logistics plays in today's global economy and to start encourage kids as early as middle school or high school to explore career options in these areas. One could maybe even argue that supply chain management has sort of become a science in its own right (much like business has), considering all the unknowns and intangible pieces still needing to be researched (though the art of refining it -- never perfecting it -- takes decades of craftsmanship).
Procurian's 2013 third quarter Spend Trends Report notes, too, that despite being worried about skilled labor shortages and supply chain disasters, companies are prudently investing in innovation aimed at accelerating growth. Rather, their opening their wallets to drive tangible returns and avoiding wasteful spending, the company found.
"Proper planning and market intelligence can make a world of difference when combatting external global factors affecting a company's cost margins," said Carl Guarino, Procurian's CEO, in a press release. "From government shutdowns to labor strikes at our ports, the events of the past few years have served as a wake-up call to many in the C-suite that action needs to happen now to plan for the unforeseen in a rapidly changing world."
Maybe there's some crossover between these seemingly parallel but very connected awareness-building efforts. What do you think?