Report Finds Shortage of Workers with STEM Skills

Jul 8, 2014

A new national report shows that there is a shortage of workers with developed skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  The Brookings Institution report analyzed how long job vacancies were posted last year for various occupations. The study’s author Jonathan Rothwell says STEM jobs took the longest to fill everywhere across the country, indicating difficulty finding workers with adequate skills.

“These are high demand skills that need to be fostered, and I hope that reinforces efforts at the K-12 level to make improvements in math and science education a priority,” Rothwell says. “When it comes to postsecondary education, the general trend in the United States is that we need to do a better job of graduating people into these fields.”

Utah had an easier time finding STEM workers than a lot of other areas. In Salt Lake and Provo metro areas, it took 37 to 38 days to hire a STEM worker with a bachelor’s degree. In Washington DC, it took 46 days. In San Jose, California, it took 59 days. Across the country, the hardest jobs to fill were related to architecture, engineering, and computing.

“Overall nationally there is a shortage of STEM workers. It’s not as severe in Utah most likely because of high educational attainment rates, strong university and high school systems,” Rothwell says. “That’s a tremendous asset for Utah that it can use to recruit companies to invest in the area and to help develop its own internal entrepreneurial culture.” 

This year, Utah state lawmakers approved 20 million dollars to continue and expand STEM education initiatives.