LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas metro area is now second to last when it comes to the number of tech jobs supporting the local economy.
The Brookings Institution looked at the number of science and tech jobs in 100 of the largest metropolitan areas scattered across the United States. Las Vegas was ranked 99th.
Las Vegas came in with a little more than 12 percent of the workforce in those tech jobs. The jobs are in science, tech, engineering and math fields. Experts at the Brookings Institute say the local education system is underfunded and the economy is still too reliant on the gaming industry.
"We're so vulnerable to the ups and downs in that industry. And anything -- even if we get to the 80th rank, than the 99th rank, that's an improvement," said Dr. Robert Lang, Brookings Mountain West director.
He says a tech economy is starting to develop with the Downtown Project. Las Vegas developer Mike Yoder is part of that project. When he developed Alice, a virtual receptionist for companies, he was looking for some specifics when he hired at his tech firm.
"An approach to problem solving, critical thinking, because with technology it's always changing," Yoder said.
Lang says better funding of education needs to be a priority.
"The state has been consistently underfunding the research university, especially here, as opposed to the north," Lang said.
He says one issue is the students who come from homes where another language is spoken. Lang says there is not adequate funding to teach them English.
"If you don't learn how to speak English, you're not going to learn science and technology," Lang said.
Clark County schools are trying to incorporate more science and math learning at an earlier age, primarily through clubs and competitions.
"Even though it's not where I would like it to be, we've come a long way. We can't expect it to happen overnight," Yoder said.
The Clark County School District is having teachers go through science and math professional development training programs over the summer months. In addition, the district did get extra funding from the Legislature that will be used to help fund English Language Learner programs.