A Massachusetts state jobs commission says filling the skills gap is one of the urgent tasks facing the Commonwealth. The job creation report concludes today's job market requires different skills than 20, 30 or 40 years ago.
“There are still a lot of manufacturing, but the manufacturing skills for many have changed,” says State Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), co-chair of the 17-member panel. “It would be now life sciences, now some clean energy jobs. These are all growing sectors in our economy and need folks with those growing skills.”
Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Fall River) says one of the biggest challenges for his region and the state is educating workers to fill those jobs.
“Fall River, like New Bedford and many other of the gateway cities around the commonwealth of Massachusetts, have a large number of unemployed individuals that have traditionally worked in those industries — in my case, the apparel and needle trade and textile industries — that possess skills that are not directly transferable to a 21st-century economy," he says. To him, the big question is "how do we create opportunities and trailing programs so that these individuals, many of whom are not young or entry-level employees [can develop] the skills necessary to acquire a living-wage job in the 21st century." He calls that "a tremendous challenge."
The commission report recommends increasing the focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in pre-K through college and conducting a statewide job vacancy survey at least once a year.