CA: Report: “Advanced jobs” growing at brisk clip in Memphis metro area
Memphis and Tennessee posted strong job growth in advanced industries over the past five years, a new Brookings Institution report says.
The Memphis metro area ranked No. 8 nationally in job growth in 2014-2015 in advanced categories including architecture and engineering, medical-related manufacturing and computer systems, Brookings said.
Those jobs grew 6.3 percent in 2014-2015 to number nearly 36,000 positions after increasing 3 percent the preceding three years.
Tennessee was No. 1 among states in 2014-2015 and No. 3 in 2010-2013, said the report, “America’s advanced industries: New Trends.”
Brookings, a Washington think tank, said the report zeros in on “a group of 50 R&D- (research and development) and STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics)-worker intensive industries, the vitality of which will be essential for supporting any broadly shared prosperity in U.S. regions.”
“I think companies recognize they will not grow if they do not have a strong IT focus,” said Regina Whitley, executive director of the Greater Memphis IT Council. Organizations throughout Memphis are “putting resources against IT. It’s just an absolutely phenomenal need.”
Job growth for STEM graduates is rising much faster in metro areas in the Deep South than San Francisco or Seattle, the high-tech meccas along the West Coast, Brookings reported.
Mark Muro, a co-author of the study, said seven of the top eight cities showing the most growth in high-tech employment came from southern states such as Tennessee and Mississippi.
Around 40 percent of STEM jobs are still clustered around the tech centers of San Francisco, Washington, New York, San Jose, Boston and Los Angeles.
While universities in Memphis have been ramping up computer science and tech education programs, the effort reaches into high school and middle schools.
“We’re training kids for the kind of jobs and entrepreneurial positions that haven’t been created yet,’’ said Meka Egwuekwe, executive director of CodeCrew in Memphis, which will begin offering school electives this coming semester in software coding at Memphis Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School and MLK College Preparatory High School.