KRISTIE WELLS / FLICKR
Talk to hiring managers at manufacturing companies around Ohio and you’ll frequently hear one complaint: they have jobs open, but can’ t find enough local people with a science, technology, engineering or math background.
“It’s frustrating when you have a state unemployment rate of seven percent,” says Rep. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark).
That’s why he’s sponsoring a bill that would provide income tax credits to anyone who gets a degree in one of the so-called STEM disciplines.
The credits range from $5,000 for an associate’s degree, $20,000 for a bachelor’s, and up to $30,000 for a masters or doctorate. Graduates would have to stay in Ohio for at least five years, and would receive ten percent of the credit per year for up to ten years.
“The goal is to create a labor pool for Ohio and keep them here,” Hottinger says, rather than losing graduates to states like Texas and California.
STEM jobs are on the rise in Ohio, and around the country. The US Department of Commerce says STEM jobs are projected to grow 17 percent by 2018 compared to 9.8 percent for other fields. And STEM workers earn 26 percent more than people in other fields.
Hottinger hopes such data will convince fellow law makers to support the idea. In 2009, then legislator Josh Mandel sponsored a similar bill, but it never got much traction. As it stands, the measure has yet to be conferred to a legislative committee.