Jobs in science and technology are scarce in Southwest Florida.
A new study found the Cape Coral- Fort Myers area has fewer jobs in STEM fields than almost any other metropolitan area in the country.
According to a report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, the only other metro area advertising fewer jobs requiring skills in science, technology, engineering and math is in McAllen, Texas. Cape Coral- Fort Myers ranked 99 on a list of 100 regions.
Jonathan Rothwell authored the study. He said areas like San Jose in California and Durham in North Carolina ranked highest for STEM jobs because they have big research institutions and an established tech sector.
“Really it’s the industry base for areas that has the biggest determination on what the job vacancies look like,” he said. “And I think it won’t be surprising to your listeners to know that jobs in restaurants and retail stores are much more prevalent than jobs in big tech companies in the metro area of Cape Coral and Fort Myers.”
Rothwell said unlike tourism-based economies, metro areas with technology and science-based economies tend to be more stable and have higher-paying jobs.
Rothwell’s study also found that most of the country has trouble hiring for STEM jobs. Many positions stay vacant for long periods of time because there are not enough workers with science, technology, engineering and math skills.
Rothwell said it’s a good thing Gov. Rick Scott has focused efforts on creating more STEM-focused educational programs in the state.