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Congress should make efforts to enable STEM workers to remain working in downturns.

Keeping STEM workers employed during sectoral or national downturns is key to maintaining adequate STEM workers. Toward that end, Congress should establish a furlough program for STEM employees in cyclic industries, whereby such employees could spend up to 18 months at a university or federal laboratory at a one-half to two-thirds pay rate. The funding for this program could come either through direct appropriation, through a tax credit given to industry, or through explicit acquisition contract guidelines that allow flexibility by the contracting company to use acquisition dollars for employee education expenses after project termination or completion.