It’s the new year, and I am thinking of workforce development issues for the next decade. Let’s give it a
whirl in the next few posts. My company, Corporation For A Skilled Workforce
has a mission of re-imagining work and learning. This frequently requires me to
re-imagine my own job, but I am the fortunate one. It turns out in the next ten
years people are going to have to learn new skills and re-tool more often than
Here in Arizona, recently ranked dead last in job creation in the nation, the demand for an increasingly skilled and educated workforce is growing steadily. The region of Southern Arizona is responding to this situation with Innovation Frontier Arizona, a workforce development initiative led by the Pima County One Stop. But funding from the DOL WIRED program runs out the end of June.
Despite the current economy and high unemployment we realize that unless we increase output from postsecondary institutions, the demand for college talent will exceed its supply, even here.
Yet the Arizona state budget proposed by our governor contains
truly draconian budget cuts that will ripple through every student’s future.
Throughout the nation we are beginning to read that the jobless are overwhelming retraining programs. We recently celebrated filling all of our places for a logistics training program at Pima Community College, and I was delighted to see that logisticians are in the list of jobs with a more secure future. Many communities now have waiting lists of six months or more for job training programs. Prior DOL, ETA and stimulus funding has been spent, and many of those currently in training will be cut off July 1.
Things are changing so fast these days, I often think . . . "we're not in Kansas anymore." By the way, Kansas has been a leader in workforce development. The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas has 1,100 workers on a waiting list because it has already obligated all the training money that was supposed to last until June, says board coordinator Amanda Duncan. Unemployed Wichita-area workers who sign up now for training for healthcare or other in-demand jobs could have to wait at least five months if the agency doesn't get any of the emergency grants it has applied for, she says. See this article on how the jobless are overwhelming training programs. Surrender Dorothy!
With the reduction of educational funding, can you see this perfect storm brewing, creating perhaps systemic cycles of skills shortages and sustained high unemployment? So here in 2010 the number one workforce development solution increasingly means helping people to say: "I am an entrepreneur!" But what about all of these 20 year olds who cannot get the training they’ll need for now, let alone ten years from now?
What is your strategy for workforce development 2020?
Contributor Lewis Humphreys leads the Corporation For A Skilled Workforce's community transformation initiatives in the Southwestern U.S.