Business Report

To help fill an anticipated tech worker shortage, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber is urging local and state education policymakers to broaden its efforts to increase high school enrollment in computer science courses “by adopting expertly-vetted and robust computer science curriculum that reaches a majority of students.”

In a public policy commentary issued this morning, BRAC says the local tech sector has added at least 1,065 jobs over the past five years and $56.8 million in payroll. Computing jobs are also now the top source of new wages in the U.S., BRAC notes.

But the state Board of Regents reports that just 11% of Louisiana science, technology, engineering and math—or STEM—graduates majored in computer science in 2015. That was only 2% of all bachelor degrees awarded by public higher education institutions in the state.

In other words, BRAC says, there’s a tech workforce shortage on the horizon that must be addressed.

“The shortage is especially critical given our need to diversify economic growth,” BRAC says in the commentary. “In 2015, 12 percent of Louisiana’s revenue was oil and gas-related. This reliance on one industry makes our economy high susceptible to energy price shocks. To remain competitive and sustain its above-average growth, the Baton Rouge Area must focus on economic diversification, and the tech sector represents an opportunity to diversify our local economy with high-paying, persistent jobs that have a multiplier impact on area businesses.”

BRAC points to Delaware—where lawmakers unanimously passed legislation requiring all high schools to offer at least one computer science course by the 2020-2021 school year—as one model for Louisiana to follow.

Read BRAC’s full commentary.