The business benefits of investing in lower-wage workers

In our last post, we discussed the approach that one business, Nypro, takes to investing in its workforce.

A just-released business brief from the National Network for Sector Partners talks about the benefits of making these investments.  Through case studies and interviews, the brief makes the case that training and advancing lower-wage workers has top and bottom line benefits–increasing revenues while decreasing expenses for businesses who make these investments.

According to the brief, which features several Massachusetts employers, including Visiting Nurses Association of Eastern Massachusetts; Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates; and Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home,  employers around the country that are building their bottom line by unlocking the potential of their lower-wage workforce.

Are you an employer interested in learning more?  Five fundamentals common to all employers interested in developing their lower wage workforces include:

  • One or more influential internal champions to promote the value of the initiative
  • An able and willing workforce, ready to take advantage of the training opportunities offered
  • An evidence-based business case for sustaining and improving the program
  • The ability and willingness to offer support to workers while they are in training
  • Dedicated, skilled management of the program

The overriding lesson is that employers who treat their basic-skill workforce as a durable asset — as a locus of quality and a source of steadily increasing skill and performance — find that their business is materially better for their effort. These are some of the returns they describe:

  • Revenues improve as quality and customer satisfaction rises.
  • Costs go down as errors, corrections, and vacancies diminish.
  • Employee teams become more productive and cohesive.
  • Less time is lost on supervisory interventions, customer complaints, and re-working.
  • The costs of excessive turnover — especially vacancies, recruitment, and re-training— all drop sharply.
  • The company’s reputation improves among both customers and potential employees.
  • The company becomes a magnet for the most motivated and productive workers.

Business needs to step up in STEM education

A dwindling supply of college graduates in STEM fields matched with an increasing supply of future STEM jobs is a recipe for labor shortages and constraints on economic growth.

Yesterday, Mass High Tech issued a call to action for businesses help build a pipeline of workers with STEM skills. Making investments to skill up our current workforce is a great place to start. There are great examples of businesses who have stepped up to provide on-site skills training, tuition advancement, and release time, not only to managers but also to line level staff in order to facilitate their education and advancement and build a pipeline of talent for critical positions.

Two-thirds of our 2020 workforce is in the workforce today. While it’s important to build a K-12 STEM pipeline, it’s also critical to invest in today’s workers.

Right here in Massachusetts, Nypro has a partnership with Fitchburg State College to deliver a plastics technology certificate program that’s both customized to their needs but that also articulates to a portable Associates Degree. This provides tremendous opportunity for both incumbent workers at Nypro to upgrade their skills as well as job seekers interested in a career in manufacturing. In fact, Nypro’s Angelo Sabatolo, Corporate Director of Training and Organizational Development, recently shared that many students enrolled in Nypro University are not Nypro employees, and that Nypro does sometimes end up training their competitors. He says, however, that Nypro sees its investment in training as a way to build its own workforce as well as a way to strengthen the industry as a whole.

As Mr. Sabatalo says, “The development and sustainability of a quality workforce demands a significant and continued investment in education and training. [H]uman capital is our most valuable asset. [L]earning and professional development (are) strategic elements to our success.”

The same holds true for the Commonwealth.

$24M for the Workforce Training Fund in FY2011

Thanks to everyone who called their Senators asking them to override the Governor’s veto of $12.5 million for the Workforce Training Fund.

Thanks to you, and to the members of the legislature, the override was successful, and there will be a total of $24 million in the Workforce Training Fund in FY2011.  This funding will be available to businesses for grants to support training including skills upgrading, basic skills, and ESOL.

Learn more about the Workforce Training Fund.

Ask the Senate to support veto override of Workforce Training Fund

Call for Senate support for the Workforce Training Fund

Last Tuesday, the House restored $12.5 million to the Workforce Training Fund in the FY2011 budget that was vetoed by Gov. Deval Patrick.   Now we need the Senate to do the same.

Full funding for the Workforce Training Fund is one of the Skills2Compete-Massachusetts campaign’s key recommendations.

Contact your state senator TODAY to let them know you support an override.

SkillWorks, Workforce Solutions Group release Massachusetts Forgotten Middle Skill Jobs Report

Did you know that through 2016, nearly 400,000 job openings in Massachusetts will require more than a high school education but not a four-year degree? These “middle-skill” jobs comprise 45 percent of the jobs in Massachusetts and are a vital part of our economy. Read more by downloading Massachusetts’ Forgotten Middle Skill Jobs, a report released today by SkillWorks and the Workforce Solutions Group in partnership with the National Skills Coalition.

See also today’s Boston Globe story.

Do you have a story about middle-skill training or jobs?  Please share it with us!