Nurse, medical assistant, electrician, computer tech support, forklift operator, and tax preparer are just a few of 39 mid-skill occupations identified in a new Opportunity Collaborative study that could help workers earn a family-supporting wage with a high school diploma and additional training. Collaborative members Karen Sitnick and Linda Dworak discussed the report on WYPR’s Maryland Morning, and it was cited in the Baltimore Sun.
The Baltimore Region Talent Development Pipeline Study, commissioned by the Opportunity Collaborative and authored by Chris Seals of RDA Global, uncovered six job fields where these types of jobs are particularly prevalent: health care, construction, information technology (including cybersecurity), transportation and warehousing, business services, and manufacturing. It builds on and expands to the full region a similar study conducted by the City of Baltimore in 2010.
The 39 occupations selected in the report often pay $23 per hour or more — the level MIT’s Living Wage Project considers adequate to support an adult with a child in Baltimore City — without requiring a full bachelors degree. The study projects more than 38,500 opportunities for these jobs, through both job growth and turnover, between 2012 and 2020.
The report recommends that the region create “career pathway maps” that focus on the selected mid-skill occupations. These maps show how a worker can progress from a lower paying job, through additional experience, training, and education, through a series of increasingly higher paying jobs to reach a family-supporting position. The Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Health Care has already produced a series of career pathway maps for that sector that provide good examples.
The Opportunity Collaborative that produced the study represents a unique partnership between local and state government and area nonprofit organizations and businesses to tackle regional inequities. “I am excited that this study is the first Opportunity Collaborative report released because it is designed to connect residents to careers, not just jobs,” said Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen, co-chair of the Opportunity Collaborative. “The Opportunity Collaborative’s work centers on providing equitable access to our region’s strengths. To me, a critical piece of this work is making sure our citizens are competitive in an increasingly technical marketplace.”
“The job growth forecasted by this study presents tremendous economic opportunity for our citizens, but only if they have access to necessary training,” added Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “This report is a road map that will help our workforce training partners provide educational choices that will translate directly to higher wages for our residents.”
Karen Sitnick, director of the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, noted the value of the study for the work of her agency and her counterparts around the area. “The regional scope of the study will enable each of our metropolitan area’s Workforce Investment Boards to maximize employment opportunities for their job seekers while working collaboratively to build a strong and talented regional workforce,” she said.
Added Linda Dworak, director of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, “This study will help all of our funding partners, in both philanthropy and government, make smart investments that create the best outcomes for our workers and employers.”