Companies are expanding the concept of "succession planning" beyond top executive positions to their entire workforces – and Massachusetts should be thinking along the same lines, Yolanda Kodrzycki, Director of the New England Public Policy Center (NEPPC) at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, told an audience representing employers, government and education on Wednesday morning.
Our state's incumbent workforce, Kodrzycki noted, is the twelfth-oldest in the country, but outside Greater Boston, a magnet for young people, it is fourth-oldest, behind only Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The ongoing generational transition is complicated by deficiencies in the skills pipeline and by limited opportunities for young people to gain work experience.
Kodrycki spoke at the release of a report, "Closing the Massachusetts Skills Gap," that completes an 18-month project examining labor demand and supply regionally and statewide. Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-public workforce agency, commissioned the analysis from NEPPC; Eastern Bank supported the report's production. For employer s concerned about workforce issues, the statewide report and the eight regional reports offer a mine of information and insights.
Speakers at the release event included the state secretaries of Labor and Workforce Development and Education, Nancy Snyder of Commonwealth Corporation, Wanda McClain of Brigham & Women's Hospital, and Nancy Stager of Eastern Bank.
Recommendations to address the skills gap are proposed by Commonwealth Corporation fall under four headings:
- Improve employment outcomes for young workers (teens through post-secondary) through work experiences, internships, coaching, and more flexible hiring practices
- Expand the scale and intensity of Adult Basic Education and English language programs, with more cooperation between employers and educational programs.
- Align education with persistent and emerging skill needs, again stressing links between industry and training providers.
- Craft more effective and accessible educational models that support ongoing skill development and lifelong learning, such as the newly streamlined Workforce Training Fund Program.