Microsoft currently has about 6,000 U.S. job openings, with 3,400 of those jobs for researchers, developers and engineers, he said. "Too few American students -- especially students who have historically been underserved and underrepresented -- are achieving the levels of education required to secure jobs in innovation-based industries," he wrote in his blog post.
Smith's speech found a receptive audience at Brookings. Teacher pay is one area that needs attention in the STEM fields, said Michael McShane, a research fellow in education policy for the American Enterprise Institute. The U.S. has a shortage of good STEM teachers, he said, because young people with those degrees can get bigger paychecks in private industry.
"Our school districts are competing against Microsoft for that talent," he said. "[Microsoft] can alter their compensation strategies based on market needs. Unfortunately, in many cases, we have locked teacher compensation into step-and-lane pay scales."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.