More STEM jobs are coming to Hawaii thanks to Govenor Ige, but can we fill them?

More STEM jobs are coming, but can Hawaii fill them?
Feb 18, 2016, 11:23am HST

Kathleen Gallagher, Reporter
Pacific Business News

The tech industry in Hawaii is expanding and high-ranking politicians from the governor to President Barack Obama are touting the growth opportunities in careers that use skills in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. But there's a shortage of coding teachers to prepare the incoming generation, so parents are taking on the role themselves.

Meli James, head of new ventures at Sultan Ventures, has warned PBN that the "talent challenge" is holding back the state's Startup Paradise. Gov. David Ige has promised to spend $6.8 million in private grants to promote science, technology, engineering and math jobs in the state. However, even if there are new jobs, the children need to be able to fill them and there is a significant lack of teachers.

"You need more teachers," said Russel Cheng, co-founder of DevLeague, Hawaii's coding bootcamp. "Even the schools that are flushed with cash have the computers and the software, but they don't have enough instructors. They can throw as much money as they want at it, but you need to train the teachers."

Parents have begun to take matters into their own hands, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Even those parents that have never written code are using websites, gaming apps or puzzles to teach their children programming.

The article sites websites such as Code.org, which is provided by a nonprofit organization that promotes coding.
Children are drawn to coding naturally, according to some experts. Manuel Cerqueiro, founder of codingKIDZ.com, an after-school computer-science program in New York, told the Journal that the focus for kids is "on the creativity."

The demand for products to teach children to code has grown rapidly and even includes picture and activity books and board games as well as apps and websites.