Vol. 8, No. 5
May 2016

Initiative to address workforce shortages and STEM

Telligen announced this month that the State Hygienic Laboratory is a recipient of a Telligen Community Initiative to increase workforce recruitment in laboratory science and raise student awareness of careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Photo of hazmat professionals.Rick Bonar, STEM coordinator, guides a student through the water filtration experiment, “Water Quality? Something Smells Fishy,” during a Kirkwood Interactive Camp for Kids.

The “iExplore Laboratory Science” project will provide educational opportunities in laboratory science for students in sixth through eighth grades in several rural communities in Iowa with limited STEM resources. The Hygienic Laboratory was awarded $50,000 to develop and implement the project.

The Hygienic Laboratory will host hands-on science activities in its Center for the Advancement of Laboratory Science (CALS), which includes a fully functional public health laboratory. It also will connect with students via distance learning from CALS. Funding will be used to update audiovisual equipment in the center.

“Creating an awareness about careers in environmental and public health laboratory science is critical now more than ever as we are experiencing the workforce shortages that have been predicted for years,” said Beth Hochstedler, director of the Office of Education, Training and Professional Development, and project leader for the grant.

In its most recent biennial study, 2014 Vacancy Survey of Medical Laboratories, the American Society for Clinical Pathology identified increasing workforce shortages.

“Factors such as retirement and the improving economy are driving the need for more laboratory professionals,” the ASCP concluded. “Recruitment of qualified laboratory professionals in the workforce and students in laboratory programs will be the key in fulfilling the higher vacancies revealed from the survey results in 2014.”