Co-conveners of the TechHire Boston employer consortium, SkillWorks and the Boston Private Industry Council (Boston PIC), hosted the third and final IT/Tech forum on Monday, June 19th, 2017. The Greater Boston education and workforce development community gathered with IT/tech industry leaders in a packed space at District Hall to discuss strategies to engage and prepare local talent to meet the growing demand for IT/tech professionals. Mayor Walsh and the Boston Foundation’s Paul Grogan also joined us to announce unprecedented new investments in workforce development to grow the pool of talent and raise the level of candidate preparation from high school through college and into career. Check out the press release below for more information!
She attributes many of her accomplishments to the training and postsecondary programs she participated in, like Hack.Diversity, of which SkillWorks is a proud supporter. And her connection with SkillWorks doesn’t stop there, having also participated in other funded programs in healthcare and IT – showing that she’s in the driver’s seat of her education, purposefully taking advantage of opportunities to learn about, explore, and enter into the career pathway that’s right for her.
On November 18, 2017, the New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) announced the launch of Hack.Diversity, a public-private partnership designed to tackle the underrepresentation of black and latino employees in Boston’s innovation economy. SkillWorks is a proud supporter of Hack.Diversity in partnership with the Boston Foundation, with an initial investment of $50,000 and the establishment of the Hack.Diversity Fund.
As an article in today’s Boston Globe highlights, warnings of the instability of the Massachusetts economy are growing. Reporter Deirdre Fernandes writes that the region’s top economists are stressing that despite numbers showing economic recovery and steady growth, when you check under the hood, you’ll see a more troubling picture. Yes, the official unemployment has dropped even lower than pre-recession levels to 4.4%, which is also below the current national average of 5%. And it’s true that the state economy has been experiencing steady growth, reaching an annual rate of 2.3%, well above the national average of 0.5%. But these data points divert attention from a myriad of challenges and systemic imbalances combining to create a ‘perfect storm’ positioned to wreak havoc on our economy.
“Not Just Kid Stuff Anymore: The Economic Imperative for More Adults to Complete College” by the Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems revealed that the number of high school graduates in Massachusetts will decline by nearly 10 percent between now and 2020. We are one of 31 states which will experience a decline and one of thirteen that will experience a decline of between 5 and 10 percent.
What does this mean for the future of our workforce and for our economy?
- Massachusetts is a high educational attainment state, with growing employer demand for more workers that have at least some level post-secondary education or training.
- In fact, between 2008-2018, state labor demand will increase six times as much for college-educated workers (148,000 additional jobs) as for high school graduates and dropouts (25,000 additional jobs).
- However, recent high school graduates are our traditional source of such workers, and their numbers will decline in MA over the next decade.
- We therefore face an imperative to help many more adults complete college credentials in order to meet employer needs.
Over 60 percent of the workforce in 2020 is already in the workforce today. We will not be able to meet employer demand for college-educated workers by relying on high school graduates alone, especially if the size of this group is actually declining in our state.
While we certainly cannot afford to stop investing in quality public secondary education, the demographic shift in our population also makes a clear case for investing in the skills of our current adult workforce. We must help and support those with lower skills but who have the desire and ambition to gain more skills and a better job.
This means we need to:
- Invest in job training and placement, adult basic education, English language services, and transitions to post-secondary education and technical education.
- Address financial aid policies at the state and federal levels to make aid more accessible and responsive to the needs of adults who often juggle work, family, and school.
- Work with employers to identify jobs they have a hard time filling, and collaborate with them on appropriate training for these jobs.
Make no mistake, increasing public investments for any set of priorities is a difficult proposition in these times, when the rhetoric and often the fiscal reality is all about cuts. However, making these investments is not only the right thing to do for our communities and neighbors, it’s what we need to do to ensure our long-term economic competitiveness.