tech jobs hale utah growth utahs

techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

Utah leads the country in tech sector growthWith the recent news that Utah is leading the country in technology sector jobgrowth, state officials say they’re pleased but not ready to celebrate — ortake their foot off the gas.According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Beehive State added thegreatest percentage of tech jobs in the country during the first six months of2016. Utah’s growth was 7.69 percent, leading all states. The other top-fivefinishers were Michigan (6.22 percent), Alabama (5.58 percent), Illinois (4.81percent), and California (3.42 percent).Writer Nick Kolakowski reported the figures on“We’ve known that our tech sector was growing rapidly, we’ve seen the jobs allaround us,” Hale said on Tuesday. “… Now we need to keep our head down, andkeep working.”As pleased as he is with Utah’s tech growth, Hale says it could be so muchgreater.“Many more jobs could be filled — we just don’t have the qualified workers tofill them,” he said.An estimated 15,000 tech jobs in the state of Utah are currently unfilled. IfUtah had all of the skilled workers its tech companies need, that 7 percentsix-month growth number could look more like 10 percent, or even 15 percent,according to Hale.“That’s the No. 1 complaint — not just in tech, but in every sector — notenough workers,” he said. “A lot of these jobs require specific skills, andyou can’t just hire anybody from off the street.”Jonathan Jackson is the chief operating officer for the Salt Lake City-basedUtah Technology Council, a professional association that for 25 years hasconsidered itself the “voice of Utah’s technology ecosystem.” He agrees thatfinding qualified talent to fill tech jobs is the major hurdle in the state.“I think it’s a well-educated state,” he said. “The problem is, there’s justnot enough engineering and computer science talent to fill the positions.”Jackson said tech jobs are the best-paying jobs in the state, with 80 percentof the starting salaries among UTC member companies in the $60,000 to $100,000range. That tells him the technology sector is “very robust” in Utah.“It just confirms what we’ve already found as we survey member companies,” hesaid. “We found that 95 percent of the tech companies are growing andthriving. I’m not sure what other industry can say that about its companies.”Although tech companies are looking for quick fixes for the workforce problem— they need employees now — Hale says the state is trying to address bothshort-term and long-term solutions. Among the short-term solutions are thingslike “coding camps” to teach computer coding and programming.“But the longer-term solution is through STEM (Science, Technology,Engineering and Mathematics) programs in the schools,” Hale said. “I think oneof the things that has fueled our growth is our great higher-ed institutions.We graduate a lot of students here, and schools have started focusing on thetypes of programs that lead into these types of jobs.”Hale points to universities graduating engineers, scientists andmathematicians in ever greater numbers. He also highlights the migration ofpeople coming to take jobs in the state — the cost of living in Utah issignificantly less than in Silicon Valley and other big cities.“And the quality of life is better,” Hale said. “For many millennials, qualityof life is a big issue. Being 20 minutes from a ski resort, or 15 minutes froma mountain biking trail, is important to them.”The greatest concentration of tech jobs right now is in the northern end ofUtah County and the southern end of Salt Lake County.“That’s the epicenter,” according to Hale.Jackson said his organization considers Utah’s tech industry to be along whatis referred to as “Silicon Slopes” — along the Wasatch Front from Logan toProvo.As impressive as Utah’s 7.7 percent growth in the first six months of 2016 maybe, Jackson believes more can be done.“Although we’re pleased with that number, it could be much, much higher,” hesaid. “If we could improve our talent pipeline in the state, that number couldtrend even higher in the coming years. It’s good, but it’s not good enough forus. We realize there really is a lot of work ahead of us to solve and betterprepare the workforce.”And Hale emphasizes that explosive tech growth is only one slice — albeit animportant slice — of Utah’s economic pie.“I think the tech industry is one of the reasons we consistently rank at thetop with our economy,” he said. “And the good news is, we’re not just a techstate. We’re the third-most diverse economy in the country — that’s why we’vebeen doing so well.”

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