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Report Says International Students Could Help Fill Wyoming's STEM Worker Shortages

A Partnership For A New American Economy

Keeping international students at the University of Wyoming in-state after graduation could create 136 jobs, according to a new report from the Partnership for a New American Economy, a national coalition of mayors and business leaders. The group commissioned the report as part of a national campaign about immigration reform this election season.

Jon Benson is the CEO of the Wyoming Technology Business Center, a business incubator at UW. He said this year, more than 40 percent of teams that applied to the entrepreneurship competition included an international student and that immigrants play key roles in many of the businesses at the incubator. He said the U.S. should do all it can to support and foster international students, especially those who want to continue their research after graduating.

“The best students from their countries come here and it is a source of talent,” said Benson. “I’m a capitalist, you want talented people. That’s what you’re looking for.”

The report also finds international students could help fill a worker shortage in the state in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

According to the report, for every 27 STEM jobs in Wyoming, there was only about one qualified worker in the state.

Christoph Geisler, the chief research scientist for a Laramie-based biomedical start-up at the WTBC, said that means companies often have to look elsewhere.

“This is Laramie Valley this is not Silicon Valley,” said Geisler. “So if we’re looking to hire somebody we’re looking to hire them from wherever they are and oftentimes that’s not in the U.S.”

International students make up just three percent of all students in Wyoming, but contribute $20.9 million to the state economy through tuition payments and day-to-day spending.  

The report is part of the “Reason For Reform” campaign. In conjunction with the campaign, the Wyoming Humanities Council plans to help facilitate conversations about immigration reform around the state.

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