Is there a technology talent gap in Arizona’s science and engineering fields? The answer may be surprising. According to a recent in-depth study examining the state’s science and engineering labor market, while the perceived deep chasm between workforce supply and demand may not truly exist, Arizona’s employers still find it challenging to attract and retain qualified talent. Arizona’s Technology Workforce: Issues, Opportunities and Competitive Pressures study developed by the Arizona Technology Council, in partnership with Arizona State University, revealed that although science and engineering has been an economic driver for Arizona, out-of-state talent does not necessarily view the state as a technology hotbed. Additionally, trends indicate the U.S. technology talent pool is slowly deteriorating due to a rapid increase in the number of science and engineering graduates from foreign countries.
Arizona’s Technology Workforce: Issues, Opportunities and Competitive Pressures also identified trends and issues in the local and national market for science and engineering , compared Arizona’s supply and demand of technology workers to other states, explored the mobility of the state’s science and engineering workers, analyzed local education and training for both students and professionals and examined employment and earnings. Other key findings of note:
- Arizona is a relatively low producer of science and engineering graduates, as are most Western states. Where the U.S. national average indexes at 100, Arizona ranks 88 in computer science/mathematics, 84 in architecture/engineering and 95 in life/physical/social sciences.
- Wages and salaries of scientists and engineers have lagged behind those in other occupations requiring a high level of training and education. Whereas management occupations had a mean annual U.S. wage of $105,440 in 2010, earnings were $77,230 for computer science/mathematics, $75,550 for architecture/engineering and $66,390 for life/physical/social sciences.
- When looking at the state’s science and engineering workforce, 40.9 percent of computer scientists, 38.9 percent of engineers and 46.4 percent of scientists moved to Arizona from out-of-state.
- Of total recent hires, 32.3 percent of computer scientists, 43.7 percent of engineers and 24.7 percent of scientists have earned a degree from an Arizona institution.
View the easy to digest Executive Summary here.
About Arizona’s Technology Workforce: Issues, Opportunities and Competitive Pressures
The primary objective of this study was to survey local technology firms to document the hiring practices and recruiting experiences of departmental managers who have hired scientists and engineers to work in Arizona. Primary and secondary research was conducted over the course of 15 months by a team from the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU. While the study relied on a range of inputs, including comprehensive secondary research, a centerpiece was the initial survey of technology employers in Arizona. Follow-up interviews were also conducted to clarify and provide more detail on the survey responses of large companies and a sample of smaller ones. Two hundred eighty-one companies were sent the survey request. In all, 172 individuals from a total of 141 Arizona employers responded completely to the survey, representing 21,259 workers in the science and engineering fields. One-on-one in-depth interviews were conducted with 47 individuals at 33 of the firms. The study was made possible with primary funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and through the support of organizations, including U.S. Department of Labor, Arizona Department of Economic Security, Governor’s Council on Workforce Policy, Arizona Commerce Authority, Maricopa Community Colleges, SRP, ASU and the Arizona Technology Council.