Utah’s tech industry is booming. We’re leading the country in technology-based economic development and our tech industry continues to grow faster than any other state in the nation. In order to ensure we have the workforce to sustain this growth, Utah’s business community is championing efforts to ensure all students have access to computer science classes. Computing classes not only teach students about technology, but also encourages children to think critically, develop problem-solving skills, and prepares our next generation of learners, leaders, problem solvers and innovators to make robust contributions to our world.

Currently, there are nearly 5,000 unfilled tech jobs in Utah. The average salary of a computing job in Utah is almost $85,000 — roughly twice that of the average salary in the state. The existing open jobs alone represent close to $420 million in economic opportunity in terms of annual salaries.

However, it’s not just the traditional “tech jobs” that are in need of a highly-skilled workforce; there is also a shortage in fields like advanced manufacturing, biotech and the life sciences industry. And, if you consider the careers of the future, where nearly every job is a “tech” job, our workforce woes grow exponentially.

Currently, only 17 percent of Utah high schools offer intermediate and advanced computer science, and last year less than 0.2 percent of high school students took an AP Computer Science exam. To increase participation in computer science education in Utah, not only do we need to increase the classes offered, we also need to educate more teachers in computer science and we need to ensure that all students have access to high-quality computer science education beginning as early as kindergarten.

By focusing on developing a digitally-skilled workforce today, we will continue to meet the needs of our current and future knowledge-based, innovation economy and ensure our state’s broad economic growth.

Learn more about the Salt Lake Chamber’s public policy priorities: here.