Not surprisingly, President Obama’s vision for “an economy built to last,” as outlined in this week’s State of the Union address, makes job creation a cornerstone:
“I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that – openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work.”
The president’s comments get to the heat of looming crisis. High-tech industries need a well-trained workforce. You would think that with over 8% unemployment, companies would have their pick of candidates. Regrettably, that is not the case.
The fact is, there are far too few available programs in this country geared towards producing qualified recruits for advanced manufacturing jobs. If America is to remain competitive in tech-focused and innovative industries, such as the biosciences, we need more 21st century workforce training programs.
In the last week, I came across two news stories that offer hope this crisis is being addressed.
First, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick made the following statement during his annual State of the Commonwealth address earlier this week:
“We have a skills gap. We can do something about that. We can help people get back to work. And our community colleges should be at the very center of it.’’
He went on to outline a plan to overhaul the Massachusetts community college system, with a focus on preparing students for technical jobs.
The other piece of promising news relates to a soon-to-be-open high school in Virginia, Monticello High School’s Health and Medical Sciences Academy. As described by the school’s website, the program will “provide students a foundation for post-secondary education or workforce readiness in certified health related professions. Students will explore core content with technology through integrated projects, case studies, and focused learning experiences.” The school opens next fall and applications are being accepted now.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a notable advocate for workforce training initiatives, recently unveiled an economic development package as a means of increasing the number of high-paying bioscience jobs in the commonwealth. The Governor’s proposal contains funding for planning and implementing grants that support the establishment of Health Science Academies in the state.
Have you heard of other new tech-focused worker training programs? If so, please post a comment below!