business STEM Programs Benefit from PLTW to Increase Skilled Workers July 30, 2015 Proactive manufacturers can participate in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) programs to help reduce the gap in skilled workers. Advanced manufacturers need workers trained in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines to compete in a global economy. However, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that there will be 1.2 million unfilled STEM positions in 2018, due to a lack of qualified workers. Proactive manufacturers can participate in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) programs to help reduce the gap in skilled workers. How PLTW Makes Advanced Manufacturing “Cool” PLTW is a nonprofit organization that provides STEM-based curricula for K-12 students and professional development for teachers. The programs also partner with businesses to link academia with hands-on opportunities. Today, there are nearly 7,500 PLTW programs in over 6,500 elementary, middle and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This is the highest number of programs in PLTW’s 17-year history — and interest continues to mount. It’s common for applications to outnumber open seats in PLTW classrooms. In many communities, students must compete or participate in lotteries to get the opportunity to enroll in PLTW programs. Why Join PLTW A key reason why manufacturers join PLTW programs is to give back to the local community. Examples of ways business owners and managers can participate include: Working with local school boards and administrators to set up and expand PLTW programs, Organizing plant tours and career exploration interviews for PLTW classes, Hosting on-site student competitions and summer camps, Offering mentoring, job shadowing and internship programs for students, Providing externship opportunities for teachers, and Developing customized PLTW activities. Beyond the philanthropic benefits of participating in these programs, money and used equipment donated to schools may be deductible for tax purposes. And some internship and training programs may even qualify for state and federal tax credits. More important, however, PLTW programs help recruit future workers and build value over the long run. How To Get Involved If you have questions about PLTW programs in your area, visit the organization’s website — or contact us. We have experience helping manufacturers brainstorm ways to motivate and train our nation’s next generation of leaders in the advanced manufacturing sector and can help you take advantage of tax-savings opportunities associated with providing STEM training.