New Report Finds Gap in High-Paying Tech Jobs in Rural America

Career Climbers / 6th June 2022

The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), with financial support from the Ascendium Education Group, has announced the publication of its report on the state of tech employment in rural America.

The report concludes a nearly year-long research project involving a national survey of rural adults, a regional survey of rural employers, economic analysis of relevant labor market data collected by EMSI Burning Glass, and more than 50 interviews with tech employers, training providers, workers, and learners. It offers a variety of key findings and strategies that can be useful for local, state, and federal leaders, employers, rural training providers and higher-ed institutions, workforce development professionals, funders, and tech workers alike. The research reveals that:

  • Rural America is home to half of the tech jobs — about 244,000 — one would expect to find based on national tech employment patterns, and more than 80,000 of the “missing” rural tech jobs are in core non-tech industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, government, and banking.
  • Three-quarters of missing tech jobs in core non-tech industries are in roles such as software developers, computer systems analysts, and cybersecurity and systems engineers.
  • Nearly 60% of rural Americans are interested in tech jobs and careers.
  • Rural tech workers take a variety of paths into the field — half are self-taught, and less than 40% obtained their training via a four-year college or university.
  • The two largest barriers to tech training for rural workers are cost and time commitment.

“This report helps to shine new light on the opportunities for rural America to fully participate in the tech economy,” said Mark Rembert, CORI’s director of research and knowledge. “Our research shows that a majority of rural Americans are eager to increase their tech skills and that there are untapped opportunities for rural employers to create pathways into technology careers.”

“Rural workers are poised to fill tech roles in the fast-growing digital economy,” said Kirstin Yeado, a program officer at Ascendium. “CORI’s research provides employers and rural postsecondary education and workforce development leaders with a resource that illustrates how and why they must work together to help more rural workers – especially those from low-income backgrounds – gain the skills needed to transition to employment in the digital workforce.”

The report is available here.

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