Slow population growth; an aging workforce; high drop out rates for K-12 education; and no information to identify industry sectors for job growth, are all issues requiring immediate attention, according to the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP.)
Additionally, a vanishing middle class base --which has sustained the state in rough times-- has become the fastest growing segment living in poverty than at anytime in the state's history.
NYATEP suggested solutions ranging from, increasing the high school graduation rate, to increasing training to upgrade existing workers for emerging market trends. NYATEP also called for increased federal and state investment for worker training and retraining initiatives, as well as strong links between economic development agencies and workforce development entities.
Greystone Group in Arlington, VA, said there is a dynamic revolution taking place in the national workforce. Workers can expect changing careers as much as 14 times during their lifetime. Three quarters of all jobs will require a college degree, slightly more than half of all citizens hold these secondary education degrees. Long range projects conclude there will be a national shortage of 5.3 million skilled workers before year 2010. But even by filling these highly specialized jobs short-term, as the markets evolve, those workers too will require new job training.
"These and other statistics are staggering as far as the dramatic changes taking place in both the New York state and national workforces and unfortunately neither public policy nor investment is keeping up with these changes," said Steve Gunderson of Greystone.
Reductions in workforce investments continue to compound the problem, "We spend $42 billion annually on unemployment and only $6 billion in job training and some school districts in the United States spend more money than the nation invests in job training for the entire country," Gunderson said.
New York faces different problems in each of its regions, with center-state facing the loss of manufacturing jobs, New York City faces the loss of high-tech and banking jobs as industries move jobs off shore.
David Mathis, NYATEP president said, "Workers who lose their jobs because of off shoring often do not have the skills to enter into new field of work, and those of us responsible for helping these workers achieve such skills simply need more resources."
In the capital region (Albany,) "our need is finding highly skilled and educated workers to fill jobs in emerging technologies such as nanotechnology," said Dan Gentile, executive director of the Capital Region Workforce Investment Board. Workers are interested in these jobs, but they need appropriate training to perform the duties high tech requires. "This type of training is not cheap, but failure to build the pipeline for these new high wage jobs is much more costly."
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