The state Labor Department has projected a 135 percent increase in STEM-related computer and electronic product manufacturing jobs in the Albany area alone from 2008 to 2018, driven by the growing nanotechnology sector. STEM employees earn a median annual salary of $76,740, according to the Labor Department.The state's unemployment rate, meanwhile, was 8.7 percent in October, compared to 7.9 percent nationally, or more than 12 million people. About 3 million U.S. jobs are unfilled, according to the U.S. Labor Department. "We really feel that the data compels us to create much deeper and more effective partnerships between business and education," Litow, IBM's vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, said. "We are very interested, and we believe others are as well, in creating these new innovative collaborations to prepare larger and larger numbers of young people for the kinds of jobs that exist," he said, "and that create the kind of growth opportunities to make the U.S. economy much more competitive." Friday's conference takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the State Museum.