STEM job survey results may be surprising to some
West Virginia Metronews
By Chris Lawrence in News | September 05, 2016
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — New survey results indicate more West Virginians work in STEM-related fields than some might believe.
TechConnect West Virginia and the West Virginia Department of Commerce collaborated to commission the survey which revealed 48,553 people in West Virginia work in a field related to Science, Technology, Engineering or Math.
“They’re sometimes called the ‘hidden STEM economy, because many of them have a less than four-year degree requirement.’” said Anne Barth with TechConnect West Virginia. “But we think it’s important to have the conversation and talk about what policies and strategies we can adopt to grow and hold those jobs.”
The survey, for the first time, debunks a myth that West Virginia’s STEM job market is not robust, according to Barth. The results revealed West Virginia actually saw the number of residents working in STEM positions increase from last year by a half-percentage point and now ranks above the national average.
“When we got the total count, 48,553, that’s 6.7 percent of the workforce from last year which is slightly above the national average of STEM workers which is 6.2,” she said. “This is an area where we actually have a strength.”
The study gives TechConnect and the Department of Commerce concrete evidence to present to policymakers to help roadmap the future in West Virginia. Barth said creating more STEM-related positions in West Virginia is the path forward. The jobs are typically high or higher paying and don’t require a lot of advanced education.
“The goal is to increase the number of STEM-related jobs. Those generally pay higher wages, they’re more recession proof, and that’s where we’re going to see the job growth in the next 10 years,” Barth explained. “There are STEM jobs that require a one or two year degree with a certificate. Many don’t require a four year degree.”
Broken down the survey showed the average STEM job hourly wage was $28.89/hour. There were 56,600 employed in healthcare/medical jobs in West Virginia and another 2,420 workers were post-secondary teachers of STEM subjects. Finally, the survey showed those STEM jobs in West Virginia also supported another 190,000 jobs in West Virginia.