One company is expecting to add 200 jobs and 84 percent of companies participating in a new survey say they will be looking to hire people over the next one to five years. But the survey conducted by RTI International for the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster so finding people with certain high-tech skills remains difficult.

According to the survey, companies plan to add a minimum of 1,500 jobs and as many as 3,000 in the 1-5-year time frame.

Most hiring will take place at smaller firms, with some expecting to double in size.

Where are the best opportunities?

  • IT and consulting
  • Software/programming and power engineering
  • Renewable energy and power engineering

Most in demand?

  • Engineering and technology degrees (67 percent)
  • Business/management degrees second (36 percent)
  • 25% of survey respondents included BOTH engineering/technology and business/management as preferred or required degrees.
  • Among IT/software/analytics companies, 76% preferred engineering and technology degrees.
  • Among renewables/energy services/power engineering/utilities companies, 75% preferred engineering/technology degrees. Environmental studies came in second at 34%.

WTW Insider coverage – Education wish list: High-tech and energy sector employers have a “wish list” for educators and policy makers to follow if Triangle firms are going to find workers in the future that meet skill set demand. What’s on it?

More WTW Insider coverage on survey – Economic development wish list::In a new survey conducted by RTI International for the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, 123 executives from tech and energy firms were asked what “kind of support” they wanted in order to boost economic growth. From lower taxes to more marketing, education, mass transit and training, here is the full list.

And here’s an interesting one:

  • “Workers with strong entrepreneurial instincts and senior executives that can function well in small, growing companies.”

Most needed skills?

  • Software/programming (No. 1 at 47 percent)
  • Data analytics
  • Information technology
  • Energy services
  • Renewable energy
  • Consulting

However, finding people with the right skill sets remains problematic even though the surveyed companies gave the Triangle work force a 7.6 score out of 10 in terms of quality.

For example, 65 percent of the companies surveyed “find it difficult to hire mid-level workers with industry experience.”

Some issues:

  • “Companies consider their work to be a niche market and thus require highly specific skills that often can only be gained through experience. Niche skills that are difficult to find range from data science, sales engineering, to cybersecurity.
  • “Companies also struggle to find talent with blended skill sets that integrate technical backgrounds with business, communication, and sales/marketing.
  • “Technical skills combined with strong oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills are desired and missing in today’s talent pool.
  • “Creative and critical thinking, business acumen, ability to work in teams, soft skills (e.g., negotiation, facilitation, ability to develop relationships and work ethic), and cross-disciplinary technical skills (e.g., engineering and energy literacy) are also desired by employers.
  • “The most common technical skill needed by companies is software/programming. This aligns with companies’ projected growth in IT, software, and analytics. Other needed skills include regulatory experts and professionals with an understanding of the future energy industry and markets.”

A survey from the Pew Institute last fall reported that North Carolina has built one of the nation’s strongest cleantech clusters. The RTCC, an industry trade group that includes Cisco, ABB, SAS and many other Triangle firms, said one purpose of the survey was to help leaders identify where opportunities for growth exist and what employers need in order to add jobs.

“The energy and technology sectors represent enormous economic opportunity for our region, and they require talent to grow and thrive,” said RTCC Program Manager Christa Wagner Vinson in announcing gthe survey’s findings. “Our goal with this study is to identify our companies’ specific talent needs and then mobilize regional partners to help them get it.”

Companies surveyed included those in technology and energy sectors or supportive services, from engineering, construction, semiconductors and wireless to waste management and biochemical manufacturing.

“It’s important to note that the most in-demand positions are those that are feeding these companies’ expected new lines of business and are also the most difficult to fill,” Wagner Vinson said. “That presents us with both a challenge and an opportunity”

Sarah Lawrence of RTI amplified on those observations.

“To grow, most companies are looking to boost hiring in two main ways,” she explained.

“First, companies are looking for mid-career talent with some industry experience. Next, companies are seeking talent with blended skillsets that integrate communications and business acumen, for example, with engineering or data analytics.”

The survey will be discussed at the RTCC’s annual meeting on Aug. 27 ( 4:30-7 p.m. at the North Carolina Bar Association in Cary. The cost is $15 per person.)

Register online at