Report: Good STEM people are hard to find


Report: Good STEM people are hard to find

Ohio cities, ranked by duration of ads for job openings before the openings get filled. The statistic is one of at least seven weighed by a new Brookings Institution report, Still Searching: Job Vacancies and STEM Skills.

Dayton, 36.1 days, ranked 37th out of the top 100 metro areas.

Akron, 33.6 days, 57th

Cincinnati-Middletown, 31.5 days, 69th

Columbus, 26.9 days, 91st.

Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind., 37.5 days, 30th

Worst city in average duration of job openings: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

Best: Stockton, Calif.

Source: Brookings Institution

An advertisement for a technical job in the Dayton area goes unanswered for more than a month on average, according to a new national report that ranks the region 37 out of 100 metro areas for filling STEM jobs.

But local employers say they’re getting the employees they need.

The average duration of a company advertisement for job openings in the Dayton area is 36.1 days, said Jonathan Rothwell, an associate fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of a report on the problem of finding the right people for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics)-related jobs.

“The general conclusion is that it’s relatively difficult to fill jobs in the Dayton metropolitan area, and it’s especially difficult for health care occupations and computer occupations,” Rothwell said.

Though some companies advertise constantly for openings — such as fast-food workers and grocery store employees — that rank is relatively high, Rothwell said.

The metro area of Minneapolis- St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn-Wis. ranked as the best with average days of 21. Stockton, Calif. ranked as the worst in the nation with an average of 56 days.

The Cincinnati-Middletown metro area has a slightly better situation than Dayton. According to the report, the average number of days job ads go unanswered is 31.5 days, ranking the Cincinnati area 69th out of 100 metro areas.

But a few employers say the situation is not as dire as the Brookings report might imply.

The chief operating officer of the one of the biggest computer-focused and technology-reliant companies out there, Teradata, says he finds the candidates he needs.

“As a member of the STEM Collaborative Group here in Dayton, I am not hearing of any difficulty acquiring the talent needed for positions in the region,” Bruce Langos, chief operating officer of Miami Twp.-based Teradata, said in an email.

“Some positions are easier to fill than other, but that is true for many positions outside of STEM as well,” Langos said.

Chris Meyer is an energy consultant for businesses, working for Green Tech Advisors, and former energy director with the Dayton Development Coalition.

“I have heard as well that it would seem to be a problem,” Meyer said. But he adds that area schools are “turning out a lot of very qualified energy engineers in the area, and a lot of them are finding jobs fairly quickly.

“Unfortunately, it’s very anecdotal,” Meyer added.

Barb Johnson, vice president of human resources for Premier Health — the corporate parent of Miami Valley Hospital, the area’s largest hospital — said Premier is pleased with the talent it attracts.

“We partner really well with the local universities, with the (Wright-Patterson Air Force) base,” Johnson said. “Those folks attract people from all over the country, and quite frankly, all over the world. And quite often when they get here and realize the diamond that we have here in Dayton — with the arts, with the local school system and the universities — a lot of people choose to stay.”

“We always have shortage areas,” Johnson added. “When you see shortage areas, you see them across the country. They’re not specific to Dayton.”

Solving the problem — where it is a problem — takes not just schools but everyone, Rothwell said.

“It’s really a situation where all hands need to be on deck,” he said. “It starts at the early levels, when you’re thinking about the long-term needs of a community, at the very earliest levels of education. But certainly at the high school level there are a lot of things that can be done.”

Advanced Placement computer science courses is something a lot of high schools could offer but don’t, he said. Computer programming language is becoming “one of the the most important foreign languages and most valuable foreign languages, if you like.”

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