Study: Shortage of STEM workers costing Tennessee jobs

May 3, 2016

Credit mtsu.edu/berc

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A new study says Tennessee has a severe shortage of workers qualified to fill high-tech jobs, a problem that could cost the state billions of dollars in lost business.

The Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State recently completed the study. The report says Tennessee has already fallen well behind the national average in the training of so-called STEM workers, employees with the right kind of education in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

MTSU economist Murat Arik says if Tennessee can’t manage to close the STEM gap soon, companies may be forced into drastic action.

“Either they have to relocate to outside states, or an area where they can find the necessary skills and workforce, or they simply operate at a sub-optimum level.”

On the other hand, Arik says solving the STEM shortage in Tennessee could mean an additional $4.5 billion in business and 16,000 new jobs.

He says it’s going to take a partnership between business leaders, government and educators to get more STEM qualified workers in the education pipeline. He also believes getting parents onboard is critical.

“To make sure they understand the importance of the challenge that we are facing and also the importance of persuading their students to follow the kind of course or path that may lead to the STEM related occupations."

Would you like to review the complete MTSU STEM study?