Washington, DC – Developing a skilled workforce to fill STEM-intensive occupations in seven economic clusters will help drive metropolitan Washington’s economic growth over the next decade, according to the new Trends in Workforce Demand: Seven Key Economic Clusters Report by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). STEM-intensive occupations are positions that require training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The economic clusters identified by COG, the University of Maryland Inforum, and other partners – Advocacy, Information and Communications Technology, Science and Security Technology, Biology and Health Technology, Business and Financial Services, Media and Information Services, and Leisure and Business Hospitality Services – accounted for approximately 27 percent of total employment in the region in 2015, according to the report.
Despite metropolitan Washington’s employment outpacing the nation for the last four quarters, the region remains vulnerable to fluctuations in federal employment and federal spending. Supporting the seven economic clusters with a pipeline of talent can help reduce reliance on the federal government and diversify the region’s economy, according to the report.
Between 2014 and 2015, employment in the seven key economic clusters grew faster (2 percent) than total employment for the region (1.7 percent). Of the seven clusters, Biology and Health Technology grew the fastest (3.3 percent).
“Employers in the key economic clusters are looking for the same talent and will need more workers as they expand,” said Nicole McCall, COG Transportation Planner and lead researcher on the report. “They are especially recruiting for STEM occupations, which play a direct role in driving economic growth and innovation.”
During the first half of 2016, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all job postings in metropolitan Washington were for STEM-intensive occupations. In particular, workers trained to perform computer occupations are in high demand by employers in the key economic clusters, according to the report. Using real-time job postings data, the report includes the education, skills, and years of experience required for 70 different occupations.
“This report provides timely insight into talent needs in the region, which can be used to craft workforce development policies and programs to better prepare workers for the jobs in demand by employers in the key economic clusters,” said COG Executive Director Chuck Bean. “A trained workforce is essential in supporting these clusters and advancing the region’s economic competitiveness.”
The data for the report was obtained from Burning Glass’ Labor Insight database, which pulls millions of job postings from over 40,000 websites each day, and reports the employers, occupations, skills, and education requirements.