Workforce by the Numbers is our monthly look at the statistics and data that are shaping the workforce in the Charlotte region.
IT is hot
The technology sector is growing rapidly, spurred by the needs of major firms to meet their data needs and develop solutions and software to meet the demands they face.
Charlotte is a growing city and home to many major corporations, so it’s no wonder the technology boom is also affecting the Mecklenburg County workforce. In fact, we were ranked among the top five cities “winning the battle for information jobs.”
JobsEQ, Data as of 2015Q4
Charlotte is an attractive location because businesses can operate with lower costs than in popular technology areas such as Silicon Valley. In addition, the cost of living and quality of life in the Charlotte area make this a viable and competitive option. The Chamber reports that the number of people employed in the IT sector grew by 28 percent between 2010 and 2013, outpacing Raleigh-Durham and Silicon Valley.
Growing IT occupations in the Charlotte area include web developers, computer programmers and information security analysts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (via JobsEQ), nearly 3,650 people are employed in these jobs in Mecklenburg County. Their average annual wage is $89,555, well over the county’s average of just $59,756 (JobsEQ).
JobsEQ, Data as of 2015Q4
Fintech is heating up
The Charlotte area, once characterized by its banking industry, is expanding its appeal within the fintech subsector. Fintech is composed of companies that use technology to make financial services more efficient. In 2015, one-third of all fintech jobs in the state were located in Mecklenburg County. (Wanted Analytics)
According to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, many fintech firms find the Charlotte area attractive because of our strong financial services sector, namely Wells Fargo and Bank of America, which employ more than 30,000 people in Charlotte (approximately five percent of the local workforce).
In late 2015, fintech company AvidXChange broke ground on a new headquarters at the N.C. Music Factory. The 200,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in early 2017 and will employ nearly 600 Charlotteans. These new jobs will pay about $52,000 a year and include openings in software development, engineering, finance, research and development and project management.
Michael Praeger, founder and chief executive officer of AvidXChange, told the “Charlotte Observer” that big companies in the area, such as Bank of America, have done a “phenomenal job” of bringing capable workers into the community. “We’re really piggybacking off what they started. We really have them to thank in terms of being the catalysts to bring talent into the market,” Praeger said.
In addition to fintech firms, financial technology jobs continue to grow within financial services companies in Charlotte. In March 2016, financial services sector employers such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Ally Bank, the Hartford Financial Services Group and BB&T advertised 230 new technology job openings online. They most commonly advertised for data analysts, computer systems analysts, information security analysts and software developers. The most commonly advertised skills or certifications for these positions were Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Project Management Professional, Certified Ethical Hacker and application developer.
IT educational opportunities abound
Local higher education institutions have programs that seek to develop IT talent in the Charlotte area. Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) offers associates degrees, diplomas and certificates for those looking to specialize in the growing IT industry. Students can choose from courses in mobile app development, applications software and more. CPCC also offers industry certifications that many companies prefer when hiring employees in the field.
UNC Charlotte also presents study options for individuals who are interested in IT at the bachelor’s degree and graduate levels. According to its website, the department of computer science is one of the largest in the Southeast, with more than 700 students and approximately 30 faculty members. At UNC Charlotte, undergraduate students can earn a degree in computer science or software and information systems. A financial services informatics concentration is available in both programs for students looking to capitalize on the growing local fintech industry.
Research and Reporting Fellow Cortney Graham assists with collecting, analyzing and reporting workforce data and monitoring Charlotte Works’s progress toward meeting performance outcomes. She most recently served as a high school social studies teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where she used data to help improve student achievement. Graham’s background also includes research and data collection as the research assistant to the Provost at Winston-Salem State University. She is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and public administration. Graham is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public administration from UNC Charlotte and will graduate in May 2017.
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net