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February 22, 2012 at 11:41 AM

State not educating enough workers in high-demand fields

Demand for workers in certain high-tech, high-demand fields is continuing to outstrip the state university and college system’s  ability to educate people to do those jobs, and the gap will persist for at least the next seven years, a new state report says.

The problem: Washington’s higher-education institutions aren’t producing enough bachelor degrees in computer science, engineering, software engineering and architecture, according to the report, “A Skilled and Educated Workforce,” which was written by three state-level higher education agencies.

At the associate degree and certificate levels — degrees usually produced by community and technical colleges — the state is falling short in manufacturing and various installation, maintenance and repair fields, according to the report.

Previous state reports have shown that Washington’s high-tech companies  are importing workers from other states, and even other countries, to fill the gaps.

At the bachelor’s level, the report projects that between 2014 and 2019, 2,863 jobs will be created a year in computer science, engineering, software engineering and architecture. Yet the state’s colleges and universities awarded just 1,665 degrees in these fields in 2010.

The state’s universities have said they have been forced to limit the number of students enrolled in high-demand fields, such as computer science, because of state budget cuts.

The report emphasizes that the state will keep falling behind unless its universities and colleges produce significantly more degrees in these fields in this decade.

The report was produced by the Higher Education Coordinating Board, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board.

Comments | More in Education | Topics: computer science, engineering, higher education

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