By Steve Warner
A recent NYT article highlighted STEM as the national priority in education, noting that that a country’s (or a metro’s) proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is vitally important to generating economic growth, advancing innovation, and creating good, high-paying jobs. The author notes that STEM is an expansive category, and recent studies by Glassdoor and LinkedIn make it increasingly apparent that the greatest number of high-paying STEM jobs are in the “T” category – specifically computing. Meaning all STEM jobs are not created equal.
The national data tracks with our metro’s 2016 Talent Demand Study forecast that the Charleston region would create 26,000 new jobs over the next five years. Of the occupation clusters expected to grow the fastest, 4 of the top 5 were STEM related: Software & IT, Production, Mathematics, and Engineering, with Software & IT jobs projected to grow 20%.
Fortunately, Charleston’s higher education institutions are responding to our region’s STEM-based cluster growth, spanning information technology, advanced manufacturing, logistics & transportation, and medical research. As reported in our newest Regional Economic Scorecard, software & computer science degrees conferred in the Charleston metro grew 198% from 2010-2015, six times faster than the US; engineering degrees conferred grew 61%, double the national average. Nearly 30 new STEM degrees have been added or are in final planning stages for our metro.
Bottom line? Our high impact cluster companies are driving significant STEM job growth here, in the Charleston region – particularly in computing-related occupations – and our colleges, universities, and high schools are aligning their work with private sector needs.
For up to date regional job demand, top careers by salary, and educational programs matched to each career, go to the Charleston Regional Career Headlight, a one-stop free resource supported by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Regional Development Alliance, BCD Council of Governments and Trident SC Works.