A new bill filed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio could soon help veterans re-entering the workforce get jobs in STEM-related fields.
If passed, the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (S 153) will require the Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate programs to train and transition military veterans for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.
“Our veterans did not hesitate to answer the call to protect our great nation, and we must do everything we can to ensure that they have the skills and opportunities they need to successfully transition into the 21st century workforce,” Rubio said. “Our bill will help to identify the barriers to entry for veterans and support veterans pursuing careers in STEM.”
Florida’s senior U.S. Senator shared the news first with Florida Politics.
The legislation will be co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat.
The bill will encourage the National Science Foundation to specifically encourage veterans study and pursue careers in STEM-related fields. That includes outreach efforts for the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, which recruits and trains math and science educators.
The National Science Board would provide in its annual reports any relevant data on the number of veterans in science and engineering or who were studying in those fields.
The legislation also calls for a strategic plan addressing barriers veterans face when re-entering the workforce.
Veteran advocacy groups say many individuals leave their time in the service with practical experience in STEM-related fields. But they need more educational resources for private sector work.
“Tech companies like Google are aware that they don’t have enough veterans, particularly in Software Engineering. They want to hire veterans, they try to hire veterans, but they say that they simply can’t,” wrote Francisco McGee, a Navy veteran, in a blog post for Student Veterans of America.
“This is because veterans aren’t passing their programming interviews, and if you can’t get past the interview phase then they can’t give you the job. Veterans aren’t passing the interviews because we don’t have a strong enough STEM education.”
U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican, filed similar legislation to Rubio’s last year that passed in the House but not the Senate. Nevada Sen. Dean Heller had sponsored the bill in the Senate last session, but he lost reelection in November to Democrat Jacky Rosen.
The federal government has authorized other efforts to encourage more military veterans, who often work in STEM-related fields during their service, to seek out similar fields when re-entering the private sector.
A GI Bill STEM Extension goes into effect, for example, in August. That allows veterans to pursue fields that require more than the 3 years worth of financial resources provided in the GI Bill since 9/11. The extension allows up to nine months of added resources.