It may seem implausible given the relatively high unemployment levels in Massachusetts, yet employers across the state are finding it difficult to fill jobs – especially those that require some level of technical skill.
On Nov. 14, the Norwood campus of Universal Technical Institute (UTI) hosted industry, education, and public policy leaders from around Massachusetts for a free panel discussion "Connecting Education with Job Opportunities."
The discussion focused on trends and factors contributing to the gap in the state's skilled labor force, and the role of education in helping to close this gap and prepare the region's workforce for job opportunities.
The idea for this event came out of a discussion that UTI-Norwood campus president Chuck Baressi had with the school's automotive industry partners about the skills gap they were seeing and the need for technical schools to provide training to meet the needs of industry. Realizing that other industries were facing similar challenges, Baressi decided to host a town meeting-style summit that would allow participants to share thoughts and ideas on this important topic with a panel that included policymakers and members of the academic and business communities.
Recent research on Labor Market Trends in Massachusetts undertaken as a joint project by Commonwealth Corporation and New England Public Policy Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, shows a mismatch between the demand and supply of labor exists –an issue that spans manufacturing, healthcare and service industries. According to summit panelist Rebekah Lashman, senior vice president at the Commonwealth Corporation, Massachusetts is facing a shortage of workers who have the post-secondary education and training needed by the region's employers. Lashman points out that while the number of younger workers is declining, the state's aging workforce adds further challenges for employers.