‘Future of work’ report calls for more training | News

0 176

BOSTON — The COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically changed the state’s labor force, according to a new state report, which calls for expanded training and programs to help workers transition to a post-pandemic economy.

The report released by the Legislature’s Future of Work Commission highlights myriad ways the public health crisis has upended how people work and commute. It makes recommendations on what the state government needs to do to help position workers across a broad spectrum of industries for the jobs of the future.

The authors said changes in workplaces in coming years are projected to displace up to 400,000 employees in Massachusetts, who will need to be re-skilled for careers in emerging high-technology sectors. Those efforts will require a massive collaboration between the state and private sectors, according to the report.

Rep. Lenny Mirra, R-Georgetown, a member of the panel, said the report provides a “roadmap” for policymakers to meet the needs of the state’s changing workforce.

“There’s so much that needs to be done to prepare for future, if we’re going to grow the state’s economy,” Mirra said. “Addressing the skills gap is probably the most important thing we need to do in the short term. But we also have a lot of work to do to improve childcare, housing and public transportation.”

Mirra said the report highlights how conditions have improved many people as the state emerges from the pandemic, because of rising wages and labor shortages.

“We’re seeing wages rise higher for those at the bottom versus those the top, which is something we haven’t seen in a long time,” he said. “And the shortage of workers means employers really have to step up and offer competitive wages and benefits in order to lure workers, which is also good for workers.”

But, he said, the report also highlights how those workers could fall behind if they aren’t retrained for a post-pandemic workforce.

Joe Bevilacqua, president and CEO of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, who also served on the panel, said the report shows how Massachusetts could position itself as a national leader in transitioning to a post-pandemic economy. But to do that the state needs to focus on retraining, he said.

“It’s clear that more people need to be trained for the future workforce, and we need to be more inclusive about it,” Bevilacqua said. “We also need to do more to bring together education and workforce development. Education should be more than just giving kids a diploma; it should be putting them on a path to a career.”

Gov. Charlie Baker released a “Future of Work” report in July that drew similar conclusions. It highlighted how the traditional economic centers of gravity are moving away from cities and the need to re-train hundreds of thousands of workers to fill jobs in growth industries such as health care and biotechnology.

Baker says the state is “well-positioned” to recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic, but needs to “turbo charge” job training by providing more money to programs that match dislocated workers with high-demand occupations.

To that aim, the Baker administration has channeled millions of dollars in pandemic relief funds into workforce training programs in the past two years.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at cwade@northofboston.com.

- Advertisement -

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.