The Roanoke Regional Partnership is conducting a four-part study on the region's economic progress. The group is looking at how the Roanoke region compares to the rest of the United States and similar metro areas.
The first part of the study, Gauging the Region's Economic Success, is on the area's human capital index, which is made up of education, experience, and the strength of the workforce.
The new research shows overall employment for the Roanoke region is increasing, but improvement needs to be made in people getting a higher education.
The number of people over 25 years old with a college degree falls 10 percent below the national average. The region's human capital index is slightly below the national average, and falls behind Asheville and Winston-Salem, but beats Chattanooga and Lynchburg.
The Roanoke Regional Partnership suggests more investment in STEM education. The group points out initiatives such as Virginia Western's Community College Access Program are valuable to building a stronger technical workforce.
The research shows our area is strong in STEM specialization when it comes to health care and high-tech manufacturing, but needs to work on STEM fields like research and development and information technology.
The top three STEM-focused jobs in the region (well above national average): electrical equipment manufacturing, communications equipment manufacturing, and community care facilities.
The bottom three STEM-focused jobs in the region (well below national average): data centers and hosting, specialized design services, and research and development services.