Jobs tied to STEM fields are widely viewed as a major driver for economic growth. The federal government now spends more than $4 billion a year on education in these fields. The vast majority of this goes to support occupations requiring bachelor’s or more-advanced degrees. By contrast, community colleges receive little if any such aid.
Brookings researcher Jonathan Rothwell says this ignores a huge number of STEM jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree.
“It’s a much, much more diverse group of occupations. It includes installation, maintenance, repair workers. It includes construction and extraction workers, in particular. And many of these jobs, in fact 50% of STEM jobs, while still requiring a very high level of knowledge, do not require a bachelor’s degree. Typically, they require some sort of post-secondary education, either a certificate or an associate’s degree.”
The report finds Houston has the sixth-greatest concentration of STEM jobs of any U.S. metro area.