Monday, April 13, 2009

Oregon faces shortage of trained middle-skill workers


Despite the loss of thousands of jobs in the past several months, middle-skill jobs - which require more than high school, but less than a four-year degree - make up the largest portion of Oregon's economy and will continue to grow in the coming decade with an estimated 340,000 openings predicted.

According to a report, Oregon's Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs by The Workforce Alliance and the Skills2Compete-Oregon campaign, Oregon does not have enough workers being trained to this level to take advantage of the jobs. Further, many of the jobs created in Oregon as a result of the federal economic recovery legislation will fall into this category.

Middle-skill workers needed in high growth sectors

The report, counters the notion that a four-year degree is the only pathway to in-demand jobs. Many of these middle skill positions offer median earnings that exceed Oregon's overall 2006 median of $31,034.
  • The Oregon Employment Department projects that jobs in the health care sector will grow nearly 26% by 2016. Many of these jobs require less than a four-year degree.

  • Oregon is on the forefront of the sustainability movement and most green jobs, such as retrofitting homes and businesses for energy conservation, are middle-skill jobs.

  • Despite some losses in the manufacturing sector, Oregon has a strong manufacturing base that is predicted to see a 9% growth rate by 2014 in the metals industry. Most of these 4,000 jobs will be replacements from baby boomer retirements.

On March 12, 2009, a delegation representing the Skills2Compete Oregon Campaign testified before the House Committee on Business and Labor's Subcommittee on Workforce Development. The video testimony is featured on the sidebar.

Worksystems supports the notion that every Oregonian should have access to the equivalent of at least 2 years of education or training past high school leading to a vocational credential, industry certification, or associate's degree and we will continue to support this goal in the Portland Metro Region.

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