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STEM skills more important to employers than bachelor's degree, study indicates

Jul. 1, 2014 - 09:45AM   |  
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High school graduates with a background in science, technology, engineering and math are in higher demand in the job market than college grads without such skill, according to a new Brookings Institution study.

The report says STEM jobs that require only a high school or associate degree take more than twice as long to fill as other openings. They are advertised for 40 days on average vs. 37 days for jobs demanding a bachelor’s degree only.

The study tallied every job opening advertised by companies on their websites — a total 52,000 companies — in the first quarter of 2013.

Some economists have questioned the popular belief that a shortage of job candidates with science and math skills is keeping the 6.3 percent unemployment rate from falling more rapidly, citing weak wage growth for computer-and engineering positions. But Jonathan Rothwell, author of the Brookings study, says it can take several years for wages to adjust to market conditions.

According to his study, health care practitioners and technical occupations — a category that includes doctors, nurses and radiologists — were the toughest to fill, with ads advertised an average 47 days. Architectural and engineering jobs followed, at 41 days, and computer and math jobs, 39 days.

Even installation, maintenance and repair jobs — including auto mechanics and air-conditioning technicians, which require some training but not higher education — were advertised an average 33 days, the same as legal occupations.

At the other end of the spectrum, office and administrative support, manufacturing and buildings and grounds openings took the least amount of time to fill — 24 to 28 days.

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