The Technology Alliance, a statewide nonprofit of leaders from businesses and research institutions, has released a new study illustrating how tech is changing Washington’s economy, as well as what these changes mean for the state’s workforce demands.
The new report, titled “Tech’s Impact on Washington,” found that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs are in every industry and every community in the state — comprising anywhere from 8 percent to 20 percent of the workforce in every region.
“We often think STEM jobs in Washington state are software developers and engineers concentrated in the Puget Sound,” said Carol Rava, CEO at the Technology Alliance. “What we found is that there is no part of the state nor industry that is not increasingly reliant on a STEM-trained workforce — and our higher education system cannot keep up.”
STEM employment comprised some 16 percent of Washington jobs in 2016, with STEM employment at 503,139. Compare that to Washington’s STEM grads in the same year: 132,799.
In the South Sound, STEM employment is at 51,814, or 12 percent of the total workforce. In comparison, the number of STEM graduates in the region (2005-2015 cumulative completions) stands at 15,030.
“The real takeaway from this report is that Washington must have a multi-pronged approach to growing its STEM pipeline,” Rava noted. “Together we must increase both formal and informal STEM learning opportunities for our K12 students, we must expand our STEM seats in higher education – both at two- and four-year institutions, and we need to continue to expand upskilling and retraining programs like Ada Developers Academy, Apprenti, and Amazon’s Career Choice.”
The strong healthcare core in Pierce County has a clear impact on STEM jobs in the South Sound region, with the study finding registered nurses (9,624 STEM jobs) and licensed practical and vocational nurses (2,347) as the top STEM occupations.