A panel of workforce development experts in the Baltimore region came together last month to discuss how they plan to use an Opportunity Collaborative study to help low- and mid-skilled job seekers to improve their quality of life.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond hosted a luncheon presentation of the Collaborative’s Baltimore Regional Talent Development Pipeline Study on Wednesday, October 30, at the bank’s Baltimore branch. The study highlights 39 occupations in five job sectors that offer the best opportunities for workers without a college degree. The occupations pay at least $23 per hour, enough to support a single parent and child, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Panelists hailed the analysis as invaluable to them as they work to connect job seekers with limited education to family supporting jobs. “This study targets specific industry sectors as living wage job-creators,” said Kirkland J. Murray, president and chief executive officer at the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation. “We need to target our limited dollars toward those (hiring) sectors so we can steer our clients toward them.”
Likewise, others such as Jason Perkins-Cohen, executive director at the Job Opportunities Task Force, said the information tackled in the study was motivating to workforce development initiatives.
“I want to put these 39 occupations on a poster and hang it on my wall,” Perkins-Cohen said. “We need to help people land the jobs in these top industries, and this study will help us do that.”
The five sectors the study pinpointed as the source of more than 38,000 job opportunities in these 39 occupations by 2020 are health care, construction, information technology (IT, including cybersecurity), transportation and warehousing, and business services. The study also cites manufacturing as a sixth industry sector where many of these positions, such as IT, are prevalent.
More than 150 people attended the luncheon, which featured a presentation of the highlights of the study by author Chris Seals, of RDA Global Consultants, followed by a panel discussion of the report’s findings and a question and answer session.
Scot Spencer, associate director for advocacy and influence at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Opportunity Collaborative co-chair, emceed the event, and Pamela Paulk, senior vice president for human resources at the Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins Medicine moderated the panel.
Peggy Bradford, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Baltimore City Community College, said she would be using this report as her staff embarks on a retreat to guide their work over the coming years. It could guide curriculum changes that would help students prepare for the living wage jobs identified in the report.
“Identifying these living wage jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree is invaluable as we consider directions for our curriculum this coming year and beyond,”
Andy Bauer, senior regional economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, and said he is seeing people in the workforce being displaced because technological advancements make their skills obsolete, so developing new skills is important.
“Young people might not understand the importance of education when making decisions about their lives,” Bauer said. “This report really puts out the reality of what they face if they don’t develop skills.”
The study is the first step for the Opportunity Collaborative toward creating a Regional Workforce Development Plan, which will serve as a blueprint for regional coordination of workforce training. The next study will address and flesh out barriers to workforce development.
The Talent Development Pipeline Study supports industry-led partnerships, which help make sure training is geared to actual job opportunities in key industries. It also recommends pursuing career pathways, which show how particular jobs, combined with specific training and education can lead to progressively higher wages in that field.
By developing a plan to create career pathways in these key fields, those involved in workforce development can help job seekers gain specific skills, credentials and education, which ultimately increases employment, leads to higher wages and more advancement, Seals said.