Friday, November 9, 2012

Behind the Curtain: A Real Look at the State of the Workforce

The National Association of Workforce Board (NAWB) President/CEO Ron Painter launched a new blogtalkradio show, Workforce Central that focuses on key workforce issues and investment strategies to help America compete globally.  Drexel University’s Paul Harrington joined Painter the day after the election to talk about the re-election of Obama and insights into what is actually happening in the labor market. Harrington highlighted all of the market indicators pertaining to economic recovery and underscored an important marker that workforce professionals should watch— the unemployed workers to vacant jobs ratio.  While the recession brought on a 6:1 ratio (on average) immediately after the recession, the slow pace of the job recovery to date has only decreased this to 3.5:1, or 3.5 job seekers to every one (1) vacant job.  This demand deficient environment poses a continued challenge for workforce professionals.

Harrington referenced a recent paper co-authored with Research Professor, Neeta P. Fogg,  Center for Labor Markets and Policy, Drexel University about the collapse of the labor market for 16 to 24 year old.  Harrington said that higher education is clearly an important alternative for many high school graduates, but it is too often the only pathway to employment for young people, especially in our cities. We need to rebuild these pathways — starting at the high school level — so that students develop not just academic competencies, but occupational and behavioral traits as well, because these qualities are valued by employers.

How do you plan to tackle the multitude of workforce challenges in your region?  Weigh in now, and also tune in to our next Workforce Central blogtalkradio show with John Colbert from Capitol Hill Partners for a lively discussion about what the election results mean for the workforce investment system and trends to watch.