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Rep. DeFazio's APP Act will help Oregon tech innovators
Source: MIKE SAX

Oregon is booming with a vibrant and innovative software industry. In addition to the flagship tech companies that have become household names, our state is home to thousands of small businesses and firms that build software systems, provide tech services, and develop mobile apps. My Eugene-based company builds mobile apps that spread happiness. On any given day, I can't walk through downtown Eugene without running into local software entrepreneurs, and share the joy of building innovative technologies in the state we love. Yet, we're all dealing with a problem that is jeopardizing our ability to grow - we desperately need qualified, technically trained software engineers to keep our businesses afloat.

Our country is struggling with a serious supply and demand issue with more than 5,000 open computing jobs in Oregon, and more than 500,000 available across the country. Neighboring tech companies often battle each other for available talent, offering hyper-competitive salaries, generous benefits, flex time and more. Yet, none of these efforts are enough to meet our need for skilled coders.

The root cause is a failure of our education system. During the 2015-16 school year, only 15 schools across Oregon offered Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses, and only 537 Oregonians graduated with a computer science degree. Tech innovators are working to remedy this situation, spending millions on computer science after-school programs and summer camps. However, their efforts are a mere drop in the bucket without adequate support from government. Our state still doesn't have a plan for computer science education in K-12 schools. If our schools are falling behind in providing this valuable resource, what does that mean for our students?


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