Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?

This weekend, the Boston Globe ran an article that put a human face on the impact of the proposed workforce training and job placement program cuts in HR1.  In essence:

  • Most if not all of our state’s 37 career centers would close.
  • Hundreds of thousands of dislocated workers and the long-term unemployed in Massachusetts alone would lose training and re-employment resources.

This morning, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) released its Business Confidence Index, which revealed that while business confidence improved in March, employers are now concerned with their ability to fill positions with qualified candidates.  In fact 52% of respondents said they had experienced difficulty filling positions, even in this time of high unemployment, and that the biggest problem was the lack of people with required skills–both soft skills and more technical skills–in the applicant pool.

In the press release on the report, Richard C. Lord, AIM’s President and CEO, put this finding into perspective:

“We may not be seeing structural unemployment in the technical sense of a profound change in the sectoral balance of our economy,” he said, “but workforce skills issues are clearly holding employment down.”

A renewed commitment to workforce development is part of the answer, according to Lord. “To bring the unemployment rate down, we will have to support training resources such as the career centers and community colleges, and employers’ efforts through the Workforce Training Fund,” he said.

Does anyone else feel like there’s a profound disconnect between the federal budget debates and what individuals and businesses say is  needed for economic recovery and growth?

We may have a labor surplus now, but that doesn’t mean employers can necessarily find the skilled workers they need, and it definitely doesn’t mean that workers don’t need training.

The bottom line: We will stifle economic growth if we can’t meet the long-term employment needs of businesses in the state, and the result will be greater inequality, greater unemployment and a greater need for public resources and services.


Author: SkillWorks

SkillWorks is a nationally recognized workforce funder collaborative, launched by the Boston Foundation in 2003 to improve workforce development in Boston and across Massachusetts. SkillWorks brings together philanthropy, government, community organizations and employers to address the twin goals of: 1) Helping low-skill, low-income individuals attain family-supporting jobs; and 2) Helping employers find and retain skilled employees.

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