A recent Brookings Institution report looks at millions of job openings across the country to see how hard it is to fill science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) positions in a hundred metro areas. The answer: hard. STEM job openings stay vacant for twice as long as non-STEM job openings.
The STEM job outlook for companies is worst in California. Tech hubs like Fresno and San Jose see vacancies for STEM jobs stay unfilled for two months or longer.
In St. Louis, companies can hire new STEM workers faster. Ads for STEM jobs stay posted for on average 34 days. Though drilling down on St. Louis's vacancy, there's variation among the fields. For example, according to the study, doctors and healthcare specialist job openings take longer to fill: 44 days.
Jim Brasunas, Director of the IT Entrepreneur Network, said that the numbers weren't a surprise to him. ITEN works with hundreds of tech startups in the area, and Brasunas explained that he's seen job listings for programmers stay unfilled for a month or two.
Brasunas said the solution is education. "We've got to have more people trained from an earlier stage. Technology and coding and whatnot is really the new language of the 21st century." Brasunas argued that while Latin might have been integral for getting hired centuries ago, the languages that are key today are iOS, Java for Android, Ruby on Rails, etc. Without those language skills, candidates aren't a good fit for many technical jobs in St. Louis.
Brasunas also noted another issue—how hard it is to keep skilled workers in St. Louis: "Large companies from the east coast or west coast are taking talent from St. Louis, actually plucking them right out of universities," he said. "It's almost like professional athletes who get drafted while they're still in college."
Brasunas says keeping workers with the right coding skills requires good salaries and benefits.
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