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Study finds Nevada lacking in skilled workers for Tesla gigafactory

Acccording to a recent study, Nevada doesn’t have enough skilled workers to fill high-tech jobs, like the ones Tesla Motors will need for its gigafactory.  

STEM education stands for: science, technology, engineering, and math, and hi-tech companies want people with that type of training. Researcher Mark Muro from the think tank Brookings Mountain West says STEM is important to the state’s economic growth.

“That is highly relevant to the challenges the state is facing in Reno where you’re beginning to get significant growth in new sectors like IT, logistics and advanced manufacturing but the workforce pipeline is thin, and demand is outstripping supply,” Muro says.

According to Muro, the gap between supply and demand is there because Nevada has traditionally been a tourism and gaming-based economy. Since Tesla will start hiring 6,500 workers for the gigafactory in 2016, Muro says the state needs an immediate solution.

“We’re urging the state to create a challenge grant to be made available to great collaborations of industries, community colleges, workforce training intermediaries, or universities to deliver exactly the kind of workers that are needed by the economy,” Muro says.

Muro recommends the state’s challenge grant be for $10 to $12 million and that businesses should match that amount. He says businesses need to be involved in spurring solutions since it’s in their best interest to develop the workforce they need.    

“In the scheme of things, it’s a relatively modest cost, and such an approach could generate problem-solving in the relatively near-term,” Muro says.

Muro points to manufacturing programs that are already in place in Nevada like the one at Truckee Meadows Community College as a good model for the state to expand on.

Esther Ciammachilli is a former part-time broadcaster at KUNR Public Radio.
Anh Gray is a former contributing editor at KUNR Public Radio.