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US tech CEOs demand Congress programs US kids to be tech workers

Feed us more compsci grads!

A who's-who list of tech industry executives has urged US Congress to pump computer science training into the brains of American kids.

The open letter, signed by more than 40 CEOs, board chairs, and company founders, asks all members of the Senate and the House to direct funding and support for programs that would create compsci programs in primary and secondary (K-12) schools.

"We urge you to amplify and accelerate the local efforts in classrooms, unlock opportunity in every state, and give an answer to all the parents and teachers who believe that every student, in every school, should have a chance to learn computer science," the letter reads.

Signers of the letter include Bill and Melinda Gates, Tim Cook, Larry Ellison, Mark Benioff, Ginni Rometty, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Jeff Bezos, and Satya Nadella.

In addition to the CEOs, the letter is signed by 28 state governors and a number of school superintendents and tech-focused nonprofit agencies.

The letter points out a shortfall in qualified computer science graduates, claiming that the US produces just 50,000 qualified grads a year for around 500,000 job openings.

"Whether a student aspires to be a software engineer, or if she just wants a well-rounded education in today's changing world, access to computer science in school is an economic imperative for our nation to remain competitive," the letter reads.

"And with the growing threat of cyber warfare, this is even a critical matter of national security."

That same reported shortfall in workers has been cited by companies who want to overhaul the H-1B worker program, which was filled within days of opening its registration window this year.

Companies, including those who signed on to the letter to Congress on education, have asked for additional H-1B workers to be allowed into the US in order to address the shortage of CS job applicants.

Now, the companies are asking Congress to help close the gap by training students early on in hopes that they will be inspired to pursue CS majors in university and graduate to fill the hundreds of thousands of vacant job positions.

Currently, the petition accompanying the letter has just over 3,200 signatures toward a 5,000 signature goal. ®

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