Study finds severe high tech workforce shortage

Posted at: 05/21/2013 5:34 PM
Updated at: 05/22/2013 11:29 AM
By: Beth Wurtmann

ALBANY - You've probably heard it before: New York state is the global leader in the fast growing industry of nanotechnology.

But aren't those high tech jobs like the ones you see in the CNSE 'NanoCollege' clean room, out of reach for most of us?

"We tell people when you see this high tech facility, it's not just for those geeks that are going to spend a long time in college. It's for everyone," said Dr. Robert Geer, Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Trouble is, the workforce isn't ready, according to Tech Valley leaders who gathered at CNSE. Citing a report by America's Edge, they said now that the Capital Region has attracted A-list companies like Intel, IBM, and Global Foundries, there aren't enough skilled employees in the pipeline to fill 350,000 projected jobs, statewide.

"Now these companies are expressing some concerns and concerns that we need to address, as a region, about filling both current jobs and what the future will hold," said David Rooney, Senior Vice President at the Center for Economic Growth.

The challenge, they said, is to partner with schools and businesses to hook kids on math and science early in their education; students who can potentially net jobs with high school educations, two year degrees or technical certificates.

"The bottom line for parents is to do everything they can to encourage their sons and daughters to pay attention to the STEM fields," said Johanna Duncan-Poitier, SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline.

STEM, meaning science, technology, engineering, and math. The keys to generate a future workforce ready for New York's tech boon.

"It's so important for our children and important their children as they grow. And a wonderful opportunity for New York State to become the empire state again," said John Cavalier, Retired CEO of the former MapInfo, Inc. and a member of the America's Edge Advisory Board.