STEM Opportunities in the Commonwealth Are Greater than Ever

STEM-heavy industries are leading Massachusetts’ recent economic growth according to a studyreleased by Commonwealth Corporation in partnership with the Executive Office of Education (EOE), and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) for the fourth annual Massachusetts STEM Week 2021. STEM Week takes place from October 18 – 22 and is organized by EOE and the STEM Advisory Council in partnership with the state’s nine Regional STEM Networks. It is a statewide effort to boost the interest, awareness, and ability for all learners to envision themselves in STEM education and employment opportunities. 

“Studying STEM creates endless opportunities, and we hope more students can see themselves in STEM,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Co-Chair of the STEM Advisory Council. “STEM jobs and industries are vital to the Massachusetts economy, so we want to inspire young learners to get involved, be inspired, and picture themselves in a STEM career.” 

Massachusetts’s economy grew at an annual rate of 6.9%, according to Growth Domestic Product data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis covering fourth quarter 2020 through first quarter 2021 (October 2020 – March 2021). This growth was led by the professional, scientific, and services industry, which has the highest concentration of STEM jobs across all industries. Looking forward, the demand for STEM jobs is increasing and expected to account for 40% of the increase in total employment in Massachusetts through 2028.   

“To meet the needs of job growth projections in STEM, the Baker-Polito Administration is committed to upskilling workers for long-lasting careers in technology, manufacturing, health care, and biotech,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. “One proven pathway is Apprenticeships, and we are expanding this program to include more training opportunities for software developers, cybersecurity analysts, and IT business analysts.”  

One in five workers in Massachusetts work in the STEM field. Though often associated with science and technology, STEM jobs encompass a broad range of industry sectors. For example, one in five manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts is a STEM job; one in seven management jobs is STEM; and one out of every seven post-secondary teaching jobs is a STEM job.  

“Our Administration, through the leadership of Lt. Governor Polito and the STEM Advisory Council, has worked hard for the past several years to help Massachusetts students gain experience in STEM fields,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “We have expanded career and college pathways for young people to pursue industry-recognized credentials, and we deepened partnerships with employers and higher education institutions to offer more work-based learning experiences in STEM fields.” 

While STEM occupations are found in almost every industry in Massachusetts, racial minority representation in STEM continues to be low. Data from 2020 estimates that 27% of STEM workers are non-white, compared to the 2018 report of 24%. Black/African Americans make up 5% of the Massachusetts STEM workforce, most concentrated in healthcare. Hispanic/Latinx workers compose 6% of the STEM workforce. Asians are at 15% working in STEM. Though STEM jobs appear evenly distributed among men and women, women tend to work in lower-paying STEM industries. Excluding healthcare, women hold 29% of STEM occupations.  

“At CommCorp, we are working to create a pipeline,” said Christine Abrams, President & CEO of Commonwealth Corporation. “For example, YouthWorks, in its recent grant cycle, supported youth placements in STEM jobs across information technology, healthcare, manufacturing, science, and engineering. This type of connection with employers is crucial as it can provide students with work-based learning opportunities as well as show them that they have many options for the future.” 

The healthcare sector holds the greatest number of STEM jobs at 212,340, while the professional, scientific, and technical services sector has the highest concentration of STEM jobs at 43%. Massachusetts continues to be among the states with the highest demand for STEM occupations, adjusted for population, across the U.S. 

“The findings in this report reinforce the importance of our efforts to continue raising awareness of key career paths among STEM fields, which are playing a leading role in the Commonwealth’s economic recovery,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “By focusing on the pipeline to develop talent, we can ensure STEM industries can continue to leverage a strong workforce in Massachusetts to strengthen their position in our economy and also expand STEM career opportunities to even more communities that traditionally have been underrepresented.”

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