STEM jobs key to area economic growth

WASHINGTON — The D.C. region has outpaced the nation in creating new jobs for the last four quarters. And in the first half of 2016, nearly a quarter of job postings involved science, technology, engineering or math.

“These STEM jobs are critical,” said Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Executive Director Chuck Bean.

The region’s economic growth depends on STEM jobs and being able to fill them, according to a COG report released Wednesday.

The Trends in Workforce Demand: Seven Economic Clusters report focused on the areas of advocacy, information and communications technology, science and security technology, biology and health technology, business and financial services, media and information services, and leisure and business hospitality services.

While total employment in the region grew by 1.7 percent between 2014-2015, jobs within the key economic clusters grew by 2 percent — the biggest standout was biology and health technology with 3.3 percent growth.

“There were also opportunities for individuals with lower levels of education,” said COG Transportation Planner Nicole McCall. “We found a tremendous amount of demand for security guards.”

Examining area employment between January to June 2016, the COG report details the top jobs in demand within the economic clusters.

Lower educational requirement jobs within the key economic clusters:

  1. Security guards
  2. Desk clerks for hotels, motels and resorts
  3. Housekeeping cleaners and maids
  4. Waitresses and waiters
  5. Cooks, restaurant workers

Within the seven economic clusters, all of them were recruiting for sales representatives.

“We need these sales representatives to sell the creative products that our STEM occupations are creating,” McCall said.

Overall jobs most in demand within the key economic clusters:

  1. Software developers, applications
  2. Sales representatives
  3. Computer systems engineers/architects
  4. Managers, all other
  5. Management analysts

STEM-intensive jobs most in demand:

  1. Software developers, applications
  2. Information security analysts
  3. Computer systems analysts
  4. Database administrators
  5. Computer network architects

An appropriately trained workforce will need to be available to fill STEM jobs as those sectors grow.

“I think we need to look at our colleges and universities, particularly community colleges can play a key role here. But, maybe we even need to look at our K-12 curricula [to fill] the jobs that will be here in 2025-2030,” Bean said.

Bean said it might serve high schoolers well, for example, to learn computer coding.

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