The gift that keeps on giving

In a recent editorial, the Boston Business Journal pointed out that Massachusetts has experienced a much more robust economic recovery than most other places in the country.  The key ingredient for this success, according to the article?

“The quality of the workforce here is a magnet for companies–the gift that keeps on giving.”

The article lists several performance indicators where the Commonwealth is performing well: Jobs growth; GDP; and state revenue receipts.

It also implies that our “secret ingredient” helps mitigate for factors like high energy costs and health insurance premiums.

I for one am not surprised that human capital seems to give the state an edge.  After all, SkillWorks has talked for years about our people being our competitive advantage and has urged our policymakers and legislators to prioritize workforce training and education with the perspective that these investments sharpen our edge and result in significant economic returns.

Over the years, we’ve gotten a lot things right in MA–the Workforce Training Fund and the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund being two examples that have trained tens of thousands of people and assisted hundreds of businesses improve productivity, increase profitability and increase employee retention and satisfaction.

However, even as we have finally institutionalized the Workforce Training Fund as a trust fund, thus ensuring its funding for 2012 and beyond, we have not recapitalized the Competitiveness Trust Fund since 2006, and we’ve cut back funding for our career centers, financial aid grants for working adults, and  job training for TAFDC recipients.  At the same time, federal funding for workforce training and youth employment has also taken a significant hit.

In the short term, we needed to balance the budget, and difficult decisions had to be made. Still, investments in human capital pay off in the long term, resulting in higher wages, higher state revenues, and a more attractive business climate.  The converse is also true, however.  A failure to invest adequately will have  a negative economic impact.

This week, during the National Workforce Week of Action,  we have the opportunity to tell our members of Congress why we value workforce training and education and how they make a difference to our businesses and our communities.   Today’s the last day–please take a moment to speak up.

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