Educators say local employers are having trouble filling open manufacturing jobs because not enough local graduates have the right skills to do the job. That’s why there’s a big push to get more STEM education into the classroom.

Thanks to STEM education, Andrea Lane will likely have no problem landing a civil engineering job when she graduates from college.

“STEM teaches you the way to think about it. Not necessarily what to think, but how to think about the different solutions of a problem,” said Lane, a junior at Cleveland State University.

Lane is joining hundreds of educators and fellow students at the GE Foundation’s STEM conference in Orlando July 26 – 30.  The conference’s focus is on the urgent need to get more STEM curriculum – or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – into elementary, middle and high school classrooms.

Employers like GE say it’s what they’re looking for when hiring for new positions.

“So if we’re trying to train for the next technology, innovation idea that comes up, we need to have students that are innovators, that are builders, that are creators and are thinkers that can help us and lead us into that 21st century,” said Kelli Wells, Executive Director of the GE Foundation’s Education and Skills program.

Local school districts are working to infuse more STEM into their teaching.  And charter schools like Orlando Science Schools just opened up a new campus in Seminole County focused primarily on STEM learning.

Andrea Lane went to a STEM-focused high school in Cleveland where she got to learn from, and network with,  engineers from potential future employers like GE and NASA.  She’s now working to promote STEM teaching so that more students across the country get the opportunities she did.

“You don’t have to be a genius to work for GE but be willing and innovative, just that type of thinker.  It benefits you in both ways, instead of just learning it for a test,” said Lane.

The GE Foundation STEM conference is underway at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center through Thursday, but if you can’t be there you can follow the conference discussion by checking #GEFSTEMSkills on Twitter.