High-paying STEM jobs go begging in today's labor market

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Most of us don’t think much about the reason for Monday’s Labor Day holiday, but we should.

Especially when we’re thinking about the type of labor tomorrow’s workforce will be expected to perform.

Especially when it takes a serious commitment of time and often borrowed money to obtain those skills.

Going into agriculture? You’ll need to know about GPS and artificial intelligence to keep up with technology it takes to make it a profitable enterprise for yourself or help others make theirs productive enough to turn a profit.

Technical skills are important whether you want to be a small-scale, part-time entrepreneur or hold down a full-time position at nearly any business.

Businesses of all size depend on technical support to keep the digital systems that make profitable productivity possible running smoothly.

The Society for Human Resources Management said that 83% of HR professionals have had trouble finding qualified candidates with the skills to keep vital technology running.

More than half of the HR departments say the situation is getting worse, especially in the tech industry and cybersecurity.

Entry-level programmers typically earn $90,000 on their first job, according to Adam Cooper, COO of Quest Automated Services, and after 10 years, can expect as much as $180,000.

Colleges can’t turn out qualified STEM -- science, technology, engineering or math -- workers fast enough to meet demand.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most of the STEM jobs are related to computers and information systems. Employing nearly 750,000 people, applications software developers is the largest field. Computer user support specialists and computer systems analysts each account for over a half-million jobs.

But they’re not all computer jobs; wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives of technical and scientific products is the largest STEM occupation not related to computers.

Mechanical engineers and civil engineers, also non-computer-related, each employ over a quarter-million jobs.

And it doesn’t necessarily mean you’d have to leave the Cornhusker state to land a high-paying, highly skilled, high-demand job.

According to the Nebraska Department of Labor, through 2026, the state will have nearly 1,500 openings for registered nurses, 1,000 openings for accountants and auditors, hundreds of engineering openings, and 1,700 openings in IT-related areas like software development and computer system analysis.

That doesn’t mean those who work with their hands in skilled trades don’t have something to celebrate Monday as well. Anyone who’s had to hire a plumber, carpenter or electrician recently know those skills demand high wages.

Earning a living by providing any type of legitimate service is something worthy of reflection on Monday’s Labor Day holiday.

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