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Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

That bag of frozen cauliflower sitting inside your freezer likely sprang to life in a vast field north of Salinas, Calif. A crew of men and women here use a machine to drop seedlings into the black soil. Another group follows behind, stooped over, tapping each new plant.

It is backbreaking, repetitive work. Ten-hour days start in the cold, dark mornings and end in the searing afternoon heat.

More than 90 percent of California’s crop workers were born in Mexico. But in recent years, fewer have migrated to the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Researchers point to a number of causes: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

As a result, the average farmworker is now 45 years old, according to federal government data. Harvesting U.S. crops has been left to an aging population of farmworkers whose health has suffered from decades of hard labor. Older workers have a greater chance of getting injured and of developing chronic illnesses, which can raise the cost of workers’ compensation and health insurance.

“The slowdown is happening,” said Brent McKinsey, a third-generation farmer and one of the owners of Mission Ranches in Salinas. “You start to see your production drop, but it’s difficult to manage because there aren’t the younger people wanting to come in and work in this industry.”

After a long day hunched over, cutting and bunching mustard leaves, Gonzalo Picazo Lopez, a farmworker, said the pain shooting down his leg is acting up. Lopez has been working in the fields since the 1970s, when he crossed over from Mexico. At 67 years old, he looks timeworn, with silver hair and a white beard. Deep lines mark his face.

As Lopez described how he carefully picks the leaves with his right hand and bunches with his left, he opened and closed his fingers with difficulty.

“In 2015 my left hand started to hurt,” said Lopez. “I went into work one morning and my hand was cold — ice cold.”

Lopez is a U.S. citizen and has Medicare. He hopes to work for almost another decade, until his wife, who is 61 and picks broccoli, can collect her Social Security.

Chronic pain is a common complaint at Clinica de Salud in Salinas. Nearly all of the patients at this community clinic are farmworkers. Many don’t have health insurance and pay what they can for medical care. Those who have immigration papers, rely on Medicaid.

Oralia Marquez, a physician’s assistant at the clinic, said older farmworkers often develop arthritis, back pain, foot infections and breathing problems from pesticides.

Many of her patients, like Amalia Buitron Deaguilera also struggle with diabetes. Deaguilera is 63. She has Medicaid for insurance, but she’s losing her vision from the disease.

“When I was working in fields,” said Deaguilera, “I never had time to take care of myself and my health.”

Workers in the fields who have diabetes often cannot take their insulin because they have no place to refrigerate it, said Marquez. And they miss doctors’ appointments during the busy harvesting seasons because many don’t get paid when they don’t work.

“Most of our patients want just something to relieve the pain and to continue working,” she said. “Most of the time they don’t ask for disability. They don’t ask for days off. They say they don’t have time to miss days.”

Field laborers often delay health care, and that can lead to serious medical problems. Compared to older whites, older Latino farmworkers are much more likely to end up in the hospital, according to researchers at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at California State University, Fresno.

Faced with an aging and dwindling workforce, Mission Ranches’ McKinsey says farmers are trying to mechanize planting and harvesting to reduce their labor needs.

But machines can only do so much, McKinsey said. You can replace the human hand in a factory, perhaps. But out here, the fields are bumpy and the winds are strong and you need people to bring the plants to life.


KHN’s coverage of these topics is supported by
John A. Hartford Foundation
and
The SCAN Foundation

Related Topics

Aging Insurance Public Health


Farmerworkers’ Health Problems Increase As Workforce Gets Older …

6a02d_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Farmerworkers' Health Problems Increase As Workforce Gets Older ...

Researchers point to a number of causes for dwindling farmworkers: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

Researchers point to a number of causes for dwindling farmworkers: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

That bag of frozen cauliflower sitting inside your freezer likely sprang to life in a vast field north of Salinas, Calif. A crew of men and women here use a machine to drop seedlings into the black soil. Another group follows behind, stooped over, tapping each new plant.

It is backbreaking, repetitive work. Ten-hour days start in the cold, dark mornings and end in the searing afternoon heat.

More than 90 percent of California’s crop workers were born in Mexico. But in recent years, fewer have migrated to the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Researchers point to a number of causes: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

6a02d_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Farmerworkers' Health Problems Increase As Workforce Gets Older ...

As a result, the average farmworker is now 45 years old, according to federal government data. Harvesting U.S. crops has been left to an aging population of farmworkers whose health has suffered from decades of hard labor. Older workers have a greater chance of getting injured and of developing chronic illnesses, which can raise the cost of workers’ compensation and health insurance.

“The slowdown is happening,” says Brent McKinsey, a third-generation farmer and one of the owners of Mission Ranches in Salinas. “You start to see your production drop, but it’s difficult to manage because there aren’t the younger people wanting to come in and work in this industry.”

After a long day hunched over, cutting and bunching mustard leaves, Gonzalo Picazo Lopez, a farmworker, says the pain shooting down his leg is acting up. Lopez has been working in the fields since the 1970s, when he crossed over from Mexico. At 67 years old, he looks timeworn, with silver hair and a white beard. Deep lines mark his face.

As Lopez describes how he carefully picks the leaves with his right hand and bunches with his left, he opens and closes his fingers with difficulty.

“In 2015 my left hand started to hurt,” says Lopez. “I went into work one morning and my hand was cold — ice cold.”

Lopez is a U.S. citizen and has Medicare. He hopes to work for almost another decade, until his wife, who is 61 and picks broccoli, can collect her Social Security.

Chronic pain is a common complaint at Clinica de Salud in Salinas. Nearly all of the patients at this community clinic are farmworkers. Many don’t have health insurance and pay what they can for medical care. Those fortunate enough to have immigration papers, rely on Medicaid.

6a02d_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Farmerworkers' Health Problems Increase As Workforce Gets Older ...

Oralia Marquez, a physician’s assistant at the clinic, says older farmworkers often develop arthritis, back pain, foot infections and breathing problems from pesticides.

Many of her patients, like Amalia Buitron Deaguilera are also struggling with diabetes. Deaguilera is 63. She has Medicaid for insurance, but she’s losing her vision from the disease.

“When I was working in fields,” says Deaguilera, “I never had time to take care of myself and my health.”

Workers in the fields who have diabetes often cannot take their insulin because they have no place to refrigerate it, says Marquez. And they miss doctors’ appointments during the busy harvesting seasons because many don’t get paid when they don’t work.

“Most of our patients want just something to relieve the pain and to continue working,” she says. “Most of the time they don’t ask for disability. They don’t ask for days off. They say they don’t have time to miss days.”

6a02d_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Farmerworkers' Health Problems Increase As Workforce Gets Older ...

Field laborers often delay health care, and that can lead to serious medical problems. Compared to older whites, older Latino farmworkers are much more likely to end up in the hospital, according to researchers at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at California State University, Fresno.

Faced with an aging and dwindling workforce, Mission Ranches’ McKinsey says farmers are trying to mechanize planting and harvesting to reduce their labor needs.

But machines can only do so much, McKinsey says. You can replace the human hand in a factory, perhaps. But out here, the fields are bumpy and the winds are strong and you need people to bring the plants to life.

Sarah Varney is a senior national correspondent at Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

b1ac2_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

Researchers point to a number of causes for dwindling farmworkers: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

Researchers point to a number of causes for dwindling farmworkers: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

That bag of frozen cauliflower sitting inside your freezer likely sprang to life in a vast field north of Salinas, Calif. A crew of men and women here use a machine to drop seedlings into the black soil. Another group follows behind, stooped over, tapping each new plant.

It is backbreaking, repetitive work. Ten-hour days start in the cold, dark mornings and end in the searing afternoon heat.

More than 90 percent of California’s crop workers were born in Mexico. But in recent years, fewer have migrated to the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Researchers point to a number of causes: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

b1ac2_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

As a result, the average farmworker is now 45 years old, according to federal government data. Harvesting U.S. crops has been left to an aging population of farmworkers whose health has suffered from decades of hard labor. Older workers have a greater chance of getting injured and of developing chronic illnesses, which can raise the cost of workers’ compensation and health insurance.

“The slowdown is happening,” says Brent McKinsey, a third-generation farmer and one of the owners of Mission Ranches in Salinas. “You start to see your production drop, but it’s difficult to manage because there aren’t the younger people wanting to come in and work in this industry.”

After a long day hunched over, cutting and bunching mustard leaves, Gonzalo Picazo Lopez, a farmworker, says the pain shooting down his leg is acting up. Lopez has been working in the fields since the 1970s, when he crossed over from Mexico. At 67 years old, he looks timeworn, with silver hair and a white beard. Deep lines mark his face.

As Lopez describes how he carefully picks the leaves with his right hand and bunches with his left, he opens and closes his fingers with difficulty.

“In 2015 my left hand started to hurt,” says Lopez. “I went into work one morning and my hand was cold — ice cold.”

Lopez is a U.S. citizen and has Medicare. He hopes to work for almost another decade, until his wife, who is 61 and picks broccoli, can collect her Social Security.

Chronic pain is a common complaint at Clinica de Salud in Salinas. Nearly all of the patients at this community clinic are farmworkers. Many don’t have health insurance and pay what they can for medical care. Those fortunate enough to have immigration papers, rely on Medicaid.

b1ac2_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

Oralia Marquez, a physician’s assistant at the clinic, says older farmworkers often develop arthritis, back pain, foot infections and breathing problems from pesticides.

Many of her patients, like Amalia Buitron Deaguilera are also struggling with diabetes. Deaguilera is 63. She has Medicaid for insurance, but she’s losing her vision from the disease.

“When I was working in fields,” says Deaguilera, “I never had time to take care of myself and my health.”

Workers in the fields who have diabetes often cannot take their insulin because they have no place to refrigerate it, says Marquez. And they miss doctors’ appointments during the busy harvesting seasons because many don’t get paid when they don’t work.

“Most of our patients want just something to relieve the pain and to continue working,” she says. “Most of the time they don’t ask for disability. They don’t ask for days off. They say they don’t have time to miss days.”

b1ac2_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

Field laborers often delay health care, and that can lead to serious medical problems. Compared to older whites, older Latino farmworkers are much more likely to end up in the hospital, according to researchers at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at California State University, Fresno.

Faced with an aging and dwindling workforce, Mission Ranches’ McKinsey says farmers are trying to mechanize planting and harvesting to reduce their labor needs.

But machines can only do so much, McKinsey says. You can replace the human hand in a factory, perhaps. But out here, the fields are bumpy and the winds are strong and you need people to bring the plants to life.

Sarah Varney is a senior national correspondent at Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

11edc_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

Researchers point to a number of causes for dwindling farmworkers: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

Researchers point to a number of causes for dwindling farmworkers: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

That bag of frozen cauliflower sitting inside your freezer likely sprang to life in a vast field north of Salinas, Calif. A crew of men and women here use a machine to drop seedlings into the black soil. Another group follows behind, stooped over, tapping each new plant.

It is backbreaking, repetitive work. Ten-hour days start in the cold, dark mornings and end in the searing afternoon heat.

More than 90 percent of California’s crop workers were born in Mexico. But in recent years, fewer have migrated to the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Researchers point to a number of causes: tighter border controls; higher prices charged by smugglers; well-paying construction jobs and a growing middle-class in Mexico that doesn’t want to pick vegetables for Americans.

11edc_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

As a result, the average farmworker is now 45 years old, according to federal government data. Harvesting U.S. crops has been left to an aging population of farmworkers whose health has suffered from decades of hard labor. Older workers have a greater chance of getting injured and of developing chronic illnesses, which can raise the cost of workers’ compensation and health insurance.

“The slowdown is happening,” says Brent McKinsey, a third-generation farmer and one of the owners of Mission Ranches in Salinas. “You start to see your production drop, but it’s difficult to manage because there aren’t the younger people wanting to come in and work in this industry.”

After a long day hunched over, cutting and bunching mustard leaves, Gonzalo Picazo Lopez, a farmworker, says the pain shooting down his leg is acting up. Lopez has been working in the fields since the 1970s, when he crossed over from Mexico. At 67 years old, he looks timeworn, with silver hair and a white beard. Deep lines mark his face.

As Lopez describes how he carefully picks the leaves with his right hand and bunches with his left, he opens and closes his fingers with difficulty.

“In 2015 my left hand started to hurt,” says Lopez. “I went into work one morning and my hand was cold — ice cold.”

Lopez is a U.S. citizen and has Medicare. He hopes to work for almost another decade, until his wife, who is 61 and picks broccoli, can collect her Social Security.

Chronic pain is a common complaint at Clinica de Salud in Salinas. Nearly all of the patients at this community clinic are farmworkers. Many don’t have health insurance and pay what they can for medical care. Those fortunate enough to have immigration papers, rely on Medicaid.

11edc_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

Oralia Marquez, a physician’s assistant at the clinic, says older farmworkers often develop arthritis, back pain, foot infections and breathing problems from pesticides.

Many of her patients, like Amalia Buitron Deaguilera are also struggling with diabetes. Deaguilera is 63. She has Medicaid for insurance, but she’s losing her vision from the disease.

“When I was working in fields,” says Deaguilera, “I never had time to take care of myself and my health.”

Workers in the fields who have diabetes often cannot take their insulin because they have no place to refrigerate it, says Marquez. And they miss doctors’ appointments during the busy harvesting seasons because many don’t get paid when they don’t work.

“Most of our patients want just something to relieve the pain and to continue working,” she says. “Most of the time they don’t ask for disability. They don’t ask for days off. They say they don’t have time to miss days.”

11edc_farm_workers_health-1_wide-cac7a51b5ecbfffd1b29b8c763d4742913a2065d-s1100-c15 Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages

Field laborers often delay health care, and that can lead to serious medical problems. Compared to older whites, older Latino farmworkers are much more likely to end up in the hospital, according to researchers at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at California State University, Fresno.

Faced with an aging and dwindling workforce, Mission Ranches’ McKinsey says farmers are trying to mechanize planting and harvesting to reduce their labor needs.

But machines can only do so much, McKinsey says. You can replace the human hand in a factory, perhaps. But out here, the fields are bumpy and the winds are strong and you need people to bring the plants to life.

Sarah Varney is a senior national correspondent at Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Hogan announces initiative to boost computer science workforce

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan has announced a comprehensive computer science education and workforce development plan, including a new executive order, proposed legislation, and $5 million in new education funding.

The plan is known as the ACCESS Initiative (Achieving Computer Science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide). Hogan said it fulfills the commitment he made in joining the National Governors Association’s Governors Partnership for K-12 Computer Science in July. The goal is to strengthen computer science education across states for all students in order to meet the demands of a 21st century workforce and prepare students for the jobs of the future.

Current estimates indicate that there are more than 500,000 open computing jobs across the country and over 115,000 total computer science-related jobs in Maryland, according to the governor’s office.

“For nearly three years, our administration has worked tirelessly to build an unrivaled ecosystem of innovation and economic growth in Maryland,” said Hogan. “We want to make sure that Marylanders have the tools and the skills they need to compete for 21st century jobs.

“In this rapidly-evolving job landscape, states that have access to a highly trained workforce will have a major advantage. Maryland simply must continue to lead the way, and closing this skills gap begins with a focus on education. We must spark the interest of students — particularly girls — beginning at an even younger age, and we must inspire high school and college students to pursue careers in computer science,” the governor continued.

He noted that while Maryland has a highly educated workforce and computer science-related industries are growing in the state, the demand is increasing at an even faster rate, and companies often experience difficulty in finding workers with the necessary training and skills. There are currently nearly 20,000 openings for high-paying computing-related jobs in Maryland — four times the national average — and while computing-related jobs in the state are projected to grow by another 12 percent over the next decade, in 2015, Maryland produced fewer than 3,000 computer science graduates.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings in the nation, but universities are only expected to produce enough qualified graduates to fill 29 percent of those jobs. In addition, there is a lack of diversity in the computer sciences sector; in 2015, only 20 percent of computer science graduates were female, and of the Maryland students who took the AP Computer Science exam, less than one quarter were girls.

To help address these issues, Hogan signed Executive Order 01.01.2017.27 last Thursday, directing the Task Force on Cybersecurity and Information Technology, as part of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board, to study opportunities to grow the sector of Maryland’s economy associated with computer science and the Information Technology industry. The task force will focus on developing pathways that meet identified workforce needs in computing fields, addressing the challenges facing Maryland’s talent pipeline, and encouraging employer partners to invest in Maryland’s IT workforce. In addition, the task force will be asked to identify innovative, sustainable ways to promote gender and minority equity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathmetics) and IT workforce. Their findings will culminate in a final report due to the governor by June 2018.

The governor also announced that he will be submitting legislation in the 2018 Maryland General Assembly session to implement computer science standards statewide for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. This will include: Goals of the computer science curricula, strategies for accomplishing these goals and a timeline to carry out the strategies described in the plan. The administration will collaborate with computer science education stakeholder groups, including teachers and representatives from higher education and computer science organizations in Maryland.

Additionally, the governor will allocate $5 million to fund teacher training and professional development for computer science and provide grants to local education agencies and individual schools for professional learning models and equipment.

Finally, in order to specifically promote the education of young girls in STEM and computer science and increase the number of women in the computer science workforce, Hogan announced a partnership with Girls Who Code to create the first-ever Governor’s Club Challenge in the nation. Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology fields. The Girls Who Code clubs are free after-school programs that allow sixth- through 12th-grade girls to use computer science to impact their communities alongside supportive peers and role models.

According to Hogan, there are already 23 clubs in the state, and the Governor’s Club Challenge will create a partnership among state and local leaders, school districts, community organizations and industry representatives to launch new Girls Who Code clubs in diverse communities statewide.

SSM Health trims workforce by 1 percent

Creve Coeur-based SSM Health said it cut about 1 percent of its total workforce on Wednesday. 

With more than 35,000 employees across four states, a 1 percent reduction is about 350 employees. 

In a statement, the health system said the cuts were necessary to ensure “long-term sustainability.”  

Earlier this year, the nonprofit Catholic health system said it would need to trim about $200 million from its budget. However, officials with the health system said the cuts Wednesday were not part of the budget reduction.

In addition to the 1 percent workforce reduction, some positions will be lost to attrition. 

Officials would not elaborate on what positions were cut or where the cuts were made. 

SSM has operations in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Laura Kaiser is the new CEO of SSM Health who took over in May.

Humana to Cut 5.7% of Workforce Amid Uncertainty in Health Care

Humana Inc. said it would eliminate about 2,700 jobs, or 5.7 percent of its workforce, as it looks to rein in its costs amid wider shifts in the health-insurance business.

The industry has been thrown into uncertainty by efforts to repeal or alter the Affordable Care Act. Humana, which this year scrapped a proposed $37 billion combination with rival Aetna Inc., had a smaller slice of the business created by the Obama-era health law than many peers, instead focusing on the more stable market for private Medicare plans.

Humana executives on a Wednesday conference call said other insurers view the Medicare Advantage market as a growth area. They said an increasingly crowded marketplace and a nondeductible government fee of $1 billion will be hurdles for the company next year.

Shares of Humana, which were up 26 percent this year through Tuesday’s close, declined 4 percent to $245.91 at 11:02 a.m. in New York. 

The company on Wednesday also raised its guidance for adjusted earnings per share for the year. Humana will give its 2018 outlook on its fourth-quarter conference call.

The insurer’s moves come as a new round of deal intrigue is unfolding, with CVS Health Corp. said to be in talks to take over Aetna. The industry is also watching with increasing wariness for Amazon.com Inc.’s entry into the health business, a move that could reshape how drugs and medical care are paid for.

Humana’s plans to let go of employees will include an early-retirement program as well as involuntary cuts, the Louisville, Kentucky-based company said in a statement on Wednesday. The insurer took estimated charges of 54 cents a share in the third quarter as a result of the anticipated cutbacks.

For the year ending Dec. 31, Humana said it now expects adjusted earnings per share of $11.60, up from its previous estimate of $11.50. The new projection doesn’t include the cost of the job cuts.

Maryland governor promotes computer science education, workforce agenda

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has announced a plan Thursday to promote computer science education and accelerate workforce development in the field across the state.

Hogan explained the need for the initiative by saying there are nearly 20,000 openings for computer-related jobs in the state, yet in 2015, for example, there were fewer than 3,000 computer science graduates statewide.

At a news conference in the State House in Annapolis, Hogan announced he’d just signed an executive order to have the state’s Task Force on Cybersecurity and Information Technology identify what employers in those fields need in their workforce and to study ways to grow tech talent.

Hogan also announced he’d allocate $5 million dedicated to teacher training and professional development in the computer science field. He also hopes to implement computer science education standards as part of the K-12 curriculum. That will require legislation that the governor said he is working on now.

Finally, as part of his ACCESS program, which stands for Achieving Computer science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide, Hogan announced a partnership with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization aimed at closing the gender gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

Hogan said there are 23 Girls Who Code clubs across the state and that he’d introduce the Governor’s Club Challenge to create a partnership to generate new clubs in communities across the state.

He also ticked off a list of concepts and terms that girls learn in the clubs: “loops, variables, conditionals and functions, which form the basis for all programming languages.” Pausing for a moment, he added, jokingly, “I should probably take that course.”

Emily Schienvar, communications associate with Girls Who Code, said the aim of the group is making sure that girls can compete in the world of computer science. “Girls Who Code is all about changing the culture, making sure that people know that girls are computer scientists, can be coders and can make a difference in this world.”

Lindsay Blocker, 15, is a student at Eleanor Roosevelt High School and takes computer science and tech classes where she’s one of few girls. “Oh, it’s intimidating, because all the guys are friends with each other,” she said, but added that she’s made friends among the boys in the class, and the girls — she’s one of three in the class — work closely with each other as well.

Blocker also said any of the guys who might have underestimated her before, don’t now. “Once you start helping people next to you, they kind of understand that you know what you’re doing, too.”

Nicole, a senior at the same high school, is excited by the climate that encourages girls to get into tech. Her advice to underclassmen, who might feel hesitant: “Continue making friends. Girls — we’re all in the same situation, so just help each other out. No one’s going to bite.”

Lastly, she added, “If you believe in yourself, you can do anything!”


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State grants $872000 to improve workforce safety, health training

  • State agency grants $872,000 to worker safety and health programs
  • Grant seeks to boost safety and health educaiton in the workplace
  • Initiative targets crane, ergonomics, tree trimming and chain saw work

 State grants $872000 to improve workforce safety, health training

 State grants $872000 to improve workforce safety, health training

Grants totaling $872,000 are being awarded to 20 employer groups, labor organizations and other nonprofits in Michigan to support worker safety and health.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the grants will fund projects that include crane rigging and signaling, ergonomics, tree trimming and chain saw safety, emergency actions plans, machine emergencies and workplace violence prevention.

The Consultation Education and Training grant program is designed to increase the number of employers and employees receiving occupational safety and health education, training and prevention services, especially employers with less than 100 workers.

Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Chief Deputy Director Al Pohl said “every dollar spent toward improving workplace safety and health is a wise investment that benefits Michigan employers and workers in so many ways.”

Grants aimed at expanding mental health workforce

Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska Director Dr. Howard Liu visited the Chadron State College campus to discuss behavioral health workforce growth initiatives Oct. 6.




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