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With companies like Tesla and Switch, and maybe Faraday Future on their way, can Nevada become a high-tech hub if our school system doesn’t improve?
Put another way: Where will those companies get the intelligent, skilled workers they need?
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is concerned enough about it that he has resurrected the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology.
The new office, headed by Brian Mitchell, aims to create college and industry partnerships, get technology in schools, and increase broadband access.
Mitchell joined KNPR’s State of Nevada to talk about Nevada’s science and technology needs, and how his office plans to support them.
"The economic development strategy that we have is working... we're diversifying our economy beyond our traditional industries and we're attracting high-tech companies like Tesla," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said while Nevada's high-tech economy is improving many companies are struggling to find employees.
"The issue that I think we're having is, however, that many of these companies are having a hard time finding workers that have the right skills they need," he said.
He said his office will focus on STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, education, STEM workforce development and STEM economic development.
To improve workforce development, the new office is launching Workforce Challenge Grants.
"These grants create partnerships between training providers and employers to serve as a means to help get those training programs get up and running," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said a lot of people think of people in lab coats when they think about technology or science jobs, but he pointed out there are a lot of highly skilled jobs that would be considered blue collar waiting to be filled, like diesel mechanics or machinists.
The office will also be improving STEM education by promoting best practices for how the subjects are taught in schools.
Brian Mitchell, director, Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology