Why are STEM and Cloud Services so Important to Rural America?

This column was written by Brendan Walsh, senior vice president, partner relations, 1901 Group

The not so obvious answer is today more people, from a broader range of education backgrounds than ever before, are able to obtain new information technology jobs while staying in rural locations thanks to the combination of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math studies and the prevalence of free, online curricula offered by cloud service providers.

Brendan Walsh, 1901 Group

From proposed Senate legislation to a multitude of regional economic development initiatives, the leaders across our federal, state and local government agencies seem to be correctly focused on finding ways to ensure rural America benefits from IT job creation. And not just the traditional IT job creation but the high-technology careers born from the demand for artificial intelligence, machine learning and Robotic Process Automation expertise, each fueled by the growth of cloud services.

So how does the combination of STEM studies and the availability of free, online cloud curricula benefit rural America? Well, a few important statistics and trends before answering in detail:

  • Employment in STEM occupations has grown 79% since 1990, from 9.7 million jobs to 17.3 million jobs, outpacing overall U.S. job growth, with 45% of the jobs being computer-related occupations.
  • In 2015, 73% of the STEM jobs required a bachelor’s degree as compared to 20% requiring some or no college degree; whereas, in 2018, 36% of the STEM jobs required a bachelor’s degree as compared to 35% required some or no college degree.
  • Four specific technological advances are credited as global drivers of business growth and change through 2022: cloud technology, ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet, AI; and widespread adoption of big data analytics, all of which are computer-related.

Yesterday, IT jobs emphasized working at an employer’s or customer’s location (generally urban) with workers having advanced, higher education degrees. In contrast today, and even more so tomorrow, IT jobs emphasize accessing technology remotely by workers who have an aptitude for STEM and the desire to learn, not necessarily the formal higher education.

Today, cloud service providers have created free, online and self-paced training for cloud disciplines including course work specifically designed for high school and college-aged students. The abundance of free training directly leads to a multitude of cloud accreditations and certifications that are becoming requisites for IT jobs across practically all industries and markets.

Cloud and cloud training are taking the cost of education, out of the employment equation.

More and more employers are recruiting job candidates with an aptitude for STEM plus the motivation and desire to learn, so companies operating in rural America now have an unprecedented opportunity to equalize urban concentrations of IT demand and talent supply with that of rural capacities for IT demand and talent supply.