Jobs Bill Should Be Enacted

Jun 7, 2012 by

May 25th 2012
Barnstable Patriot
Written by: David Augustinho
With the Massachusetts economy continuing to recover, the state should make targeted investments in workforce training to ensure that businesses have ready access to highly skilled, trained workers. The talent of our workforce is a major competitive advantage that can help spur our economy.There is currently a significant discussion about developing a Jobs Bill in the four months remaining in the legislative session. Senate President Murray, House Speaker DeLeo, Governor Patrick, legislators, the business community, organized labor, workforce boards and community groups should come together to work on a legislative package that invests in one of the key competitive advantages our state enjoys by focusing on putting our skilled people back to work.There were still 258,000 unemployed people in Massachusetts in February and another 200,000 who have been identified as underemployed. We need to do whatever we can to create jobs to help our economy grow while addressing the need for up-to-date training and credentials, particularly for “middle skills” jobs. Some industries in the state are reporting a skills mismatch in filling vacancies that makes it hard for them to expand in new markets or fulfill production orders.Middle skills jobs are defined as those needing less than a college degree and more than a high school degree. These skills can come from a community college degree, certificate programs for specific jobs which are often offered by community colleges, or apprentice training opportunities like advanced manufacturing jobs.The state’s new economic development strategy, developed by a broad coalition of leaders from throughout the state, calls for advancing education and workforce development for middle-skill jobs through greater coordination of education, economic development, and workforce development programs.Now that we have an opportunity through the Jobs Bill I think that we should invest in things that have a proven track record. The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, which funded the very successful CAMP training program here on the Cape that trained over 150 incumbent managers, should be recapitalized with an infusion of $20 million.This funding also leverages private investment from employers and strengthens our workforce.Community colleges can be helped to further fulfill their missions with incentives to be part of these sectoral training programs. Additionally, creating incentives and standards for use of future gambling casino proceeds that are allocated to community colleges can provide opportunities for these institutions to be training residents who desperately need and want training and education.People need jobs, good jobs that offer family-sustaining wages. Some employers have job openings, but cannot find qualified workers. Let’s meet this gap by funding this targeted training that employers want and residents need.

Investing in our workforce will speed our economic recovery. This is the perfect time to pass a targeted Jobs Bill that invests in people and helps them get back to work.

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