What are the most effective ways to foster the next generation of standards professionals to support critical and emerging technologies? On December 6, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Workcred, and Columbia University co-hosted a listening session to explore increasing standards awareness and growing a standards-literate workforce, particularly in relation to implementation of the U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology (USG NSSCET).
In accordance with the implementation of the USG NSSCET, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and U.S. government participants are listening to various stakeholder communities—and seeking input through a Request for Information (RFI). The December 6 listening session was one of several held this fall to gather input from the private-sector standardization community.
The hybrid event, with in-person attendance at the Columbia Career Design Lab in New York City, brought together academia, private-sector stakeholders, and NIST representatives, including Dr. Laurie Locascio, NIST director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, and Dr. Jayne Morrow, NIST senior advisor for standards policy. Dr. Roy Swift, executive director of Workcred, moderated the panel session.
Dr. Locascio spoke about anticipated workforce demands following the U.S. government’s more than $50B investment to bring semiconductor manufacturing to the U.S. through the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, with a projected 100,000 to 200,000 job openings in the coming years. Panelists discussed the importance of expanding education and training efforts to communities and individuals beyond those typically involved in standards development. Suggested strategies included outreach to students in majors outside of engineering, and mentorship programs that pursue diverse participants from underrepresented groups. Wider-reaching training initiatives will help fill gaps in the workforce, while supporting the development of high-quality and technically sound standards.
Panelists and attendees also spoke on the best methods to deliver standards education. Some felt that academic programs should include standards education woven into existing programs, with an emphasis on the value of standardization and its connection to business outcomes. Others spoke about succession planning and standards training in the workplace, as well as the potential benefits of developing a more defined and intentional career path for standards professionals.