Jobs in Science and Technology Fields Best Path to Employment: Brookings Inst Study

Jul 1, 2014

New study shows STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and math) are harder to fill, indicating an opportunity for job seekers or students seeking a major.

  Syracuse-area school officials and the business community have been touting the advantage of studying the so-called STEM skills for years now.  Anyone from high school to college to a worker who's retraining has  been urged to get into Science, Technology, Engineering or Math fields to help them get a job.  

Now a Brookings Institution study shows many of those jobs are going unfilled far longer than most positions.  Associate Fellow Jonathan Rothwell found all of the top 100 metro areas had job openings that sat vacant 50 days or more.

"We know that STEM jobs are taking longer to fill and that there are fewer unemployed workers in these occupations relative to the number of job vacancies.  It does suggest that if we graduated more people in STEM fields or retrain adults n these fields, it would imp[rove the ease of hiring." 

Rothwell says many of these jobs do not require a bachelors or advanced degree.  And positions in technical installation and maintenance, some computer skills and health technology offer good pay with a one-year-certificate or associate's degree.  The Syracuse area had a somewhat easier time filling STEM jobs... Rothwell believes that's partially because employers didn't need the most specific skills.

"The average value of the skills advertised in Syracuse are not nearly as valuable as they are in Silicon Valley or Austin, Texas or Raleigh, North Carolina that have more of a tech focus.  The other issue is that you have a large research university there that puts out a number of students in engineering, computer science and health related fields."

Rothwell says it represents an opportunity that does not require the long education commitment you might think.

"Even jobs that require just a high school education or an associate's degree but are in STEM occupations, these jobs are actually harder to fill than many bachelor's level jobs that are not in STEM fields.  The good news is that the training requirements are not terribly long and only would be competing against a fairly small number of other candidates."  

The study showed in Syracuse during one quarter last year more than 3000 positions in STEM fields were posted.  And they routinely took longer to fill than commensurate positions in non-STEM occupations.  Researchers conclude employers are just not finding enough people with advanced or even simple science, engineering and technical backgrounds for well-paying job openings.