Survey: Employers Use Wages, Partnerships to Address Skills Crisis

Posted by Katie Holahan on Apr 5, 2017 1:30:00 PM

Massachusetts employers believe that the best way to address the shortage of skilled workers is to show those workers the money, according to a new AIM survey.

ManufacturingWorkerSmall.jpgAsked what strategies their companies have adopted to address the persistent skills gap that affects many industries, 47 percent of employers responded that they have increased wages and benefits. Forty percent say they use temporary-to-permanent employment agencies to find workers, and another 39 percent indicate that they have established a relationship with their local high school or vocational school.

The results were based on responses from 100 employers representing a cross-section of the state economy. Employers could check multiple answers.

Indeed, many employers seem to be using multiple strategies to find the employees they need. Approximately 25 percent of companies say they have established a relationship with a community college, recruited employees from outside the area, used state Workforce Training Fund Grants to improve the skills of existing workers, and established on-the job training.

“We do whatever works, but it is a growing, long-term problem,” said one employer who participated in the survey.

AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century long-term economic plan for Massachusetts cites hiring and retaining skilled workers at the predominant challenge to the economic prosperity of Massachusetts. The Blueprint calls for Massachusetts to create a flexible and responsive statewide work-force development system that provides residents the opportunity to learn the skills that employers in each region demand.

Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, finds it encouraging that a significant share of employers is forging ties with vocational schools, community colleges and other educational institutions.

“These collaborations allow employers to provide schools and colleges with a clear idea of the skills that are in demand and for the schools to teach those skills to students. It creates a talent pipeline that represents the only long-term solution to the shortage of skilled employees,” Holahan said.

AIM has also supported efforts by the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC) to develop with vocational schools a competency-based curriculum for precision machining that allows students to meet prescribed industry standards.

The emphasis on raising wages and benefits appears at odds with other recent surveys showing that tight labor markets have yet to exert significant upward pressure on average wages.

Massachusetts employers responding to the 2017 AIM HR Practices Survey projected smaller average wage increases in 2017 than in 2016. Wage and salary increase budgets for this year were projected at 2.75 percent, down from 2.,9 percent in 2016 and lower than the predicted 3.0 percent budget increases predicted nationwide. 

If you are interested in keeping up with work force development area, please email Katie Holahan at

Topics: Education, Workforce Training

Tech Foundry Earns 2017 Gould Education Award

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Apr 5, 2017 8:30:00 AM

An employer initiative in Springfield to train students for careers in information technology will receive the 2017 John Gould Education and Workforce Development Award, AIM announced today.

Tech Foundry, founded in 2013, has trained more than 100 people ranging from high school students to older workers – many from underserved and at-risk populations – to meet the accelerating demand for qualified IT workers in western Massachusetts.

Tech Foundry 2.jpgAIM will present the Gould Award at its Annual Meeting on May 5 at the Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston. Governor Charlie Baker will keynote the event, which will also include presentation of AIM Vision Awards to Fidelity Investments, Bright Horizons Family Solutions and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Tech Foundry translates open IT positions from employers into a list of specific and quantifiable skills that can be taught and measured.  Volunteers from businesses take the time to help teach the specific skills that matter most to them in candidates.

“We provide a comprehensive IT training curriculum that prepares our students for an entry-level job in IT, using skills ranging from hardware repair, network administration, programming, help desk, data analytics and many others,” said Tech Foundry’s Director of Strategic Partnerships Jonathan Edwards.

AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century long-term economic plan for Massachusetts identifies the hiring and retention of qualified employees as the primary challenge facing the Bay State economy. AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord said Tech Foundry is helping employers meet that challenge while creating economic opportunity for people with outstanding potential.

“Tech Foundry has been flexible and practical and that’s why it has posted a 65 percent placement rate for IT jobs. The organization is a worthy recipient of the John Gould Award,” Lord said.

Employers, including AIM-members such as Baystate Health, have been impressed with the Tech Foundry graduates.

"When I see a resume from someone who graduated from Tech Foundry, I know they have the necessary skills to succeed in an entry-level IT job at Baystate," IT Director Patrick Streck said at a celebration of Tech Foundry’s third anniversary in February. 

State officials, including Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, have also taken notice.

“It looked like there was a work force here. If you had dropped me in here blindfolded I would have thought I was in an IT department somewhere,” Ash said following a recent visit to the organizations Springfield headquarters.

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and to the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth.

In 2000, the award was named after John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training in Massachusetts.

Past recipients of the Gould Award include; the late Jack Rennie, Chairman and Founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Middlesex Community College, Gordon Lankton, President and CEO (retired), NYPRO Inc., William Edgerly, Chairman Emeritus, State Street Corporation, Northeastern University, The Davis Family Foundation, Intel Massachusetts, EMC Corporation, IBM, David Driscoll Commissioner (Retired) Massachusetts Department of Education, State Street Corporation and Year UP Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Brockton High School, Manufacturing Advancement Center – MACWIC Program, Christo Rey Boston High School, CVS and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries.   


Topics: Education, Gould Education and Workforce Training

Employers Back More Charter Schools

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Oct 11, 2016 7:30:00 AM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts member-employers favor by a two-to-one margin expanding the number of charter schools in the commonwealth, according to an AIM survey released this morning.

Education.jpgQuestion Two on the November 8 statewide ballot will ask voters whether to lift the current cap on charter schools. AIM supports raising the cap and has endorsed a “yes” vote on Question Two.

Sixty-eight percent of 107 employers who responded to a special question on the September AIM Business Confidence Index Survey said the state needs more charter schools. Thirty-two percent believe Massachusetts should not permit the creation of more charters.

Current law allows no more than 120 charter schools to operate in Massachusetts and seventy eight charters are now active. About 40,000 students, or a little more than 4 percent of Massachusetts elementary and secondary students, attend charter schools. The Education Department estimates that another 34,000 students are on waiting lists.

A "Yes" vote on Question 2 would give the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education the authority to lift the cap, allowing up to 12 new charter schools or expansions of existing charters each year. Priority would be given to charters that open in lower-performing districts.

Employers who support Question Two cite strong academic performance at charters, the value of competition and the ability of charters to innovate as reasons to lift the cap.

“Schools that have less government involvement, less union involvement and greater competition clearly have a better chance of achieving excellence than an entity run by the government,” one employer commented.

Opponents of charter expansion express concern about the potential siphoning of financial support for existing public schools.

“This is the time to invest and fund more to public education than to take money away,” said another employer.

Katherine Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, said employer support for charters reflects persistent concern about the shortage of workers with the skills needed for the global knowledge economy.

“Employers are accustomed to innovation. They value it in all areas of business, so it’s only logical that that extends to the education of Massachusetts’ future work force,” Holahan said.

“Charter schools can provide the innovative educational opportunities that encourage students interested in diverse fields of study. As our members face increasing challenges to finding qualified workers, they are looking to a variety of sources to find capable, qualified employees at all skill levels.”

Employers also seem swayed by the statistics about charter-school performance. In Boston, for example, the average yearly academic growth for charter-school students was more than four times that of their traditional school peers in reading. In math, the academic growth was more than six times greater.

Topics: Massachusetts employers, Education

AIM Establishes Next Century Scholarship at UMass Boston

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jun 22, 2016 1:56:46 PM


The University of Massachusetts Boston and Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Inc. (AIM) have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a new scholarship to assist the university in educating the next century of business leaders in the commonwealth.

AIM will contribute $25,000 to UMass Boston annually for the AIM Scholarship Endowment. AIM President Richard C. Lord and Chancellor J. Keith Motley signed the memorandum at AIM headquarters.

The AIM Next Century Scholarship will cover up to 75 percent of the cost of tuition, fees, and books for up to two full-time undergraduate students in the College of Management during their junior and senior years of study.

“We thank Associated Industries of Massachusetts for their investment in University of Massachusetts Boston students, and for sharing our vision of developing a vibrant, diverse workforce in the commonwealth,” Motley said.

“Our students are the future of the Massachusetts economy. They will go on to serve as future leaders in their community, our state, our nation, and our world.”

Lord said UMass Boston plays a unique role in providing educational and economic opportunity to the next generation of the Massachusetts work force.

“The single most pressing challenge facing Massachusetts employers in 2016 is finding the skilled, well-educated employees who will help their companies succeed in a global economy. These scholarships represent a down payment on women and men who will forge the future success of commonwealth,” Lord said.

He also paid tribute to Gina Cappello, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement, who played a central role in establishing the scholarship before her tragic death in a motor-vehicle accident earlier this month.

“Gina was an extraordinary partner in this process and her work will benefit students for years to come,” Lord said.

The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research addressing complex issues, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), founded in 1915, represents the interests of thousands of Massachusetts employers on public-policy issues that affect jobs and the growth of the state economy. AIM also provides human-resource, management and insurance services to employers ranging from manufacturers to professional services firms to technology startups.



Topics: Education, Workforce Training

Morgan Memorial Goodwill Earns 2016 Gould Education and Work Force Award

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Apr 27, 2016 1:02:37 PM

Most people know Goodwill for its retail stores that sell everything from gently used clothing to home furnishings.

Not enough people know that those stores are the face of a sophisticated job-training and placement organization that helps thousands of people of all abilities break into the employment market and contribute to the Massachusetts economy.

Goodwill.jpgThis job training and placement work over many decades has earned Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries of Boston the 2016 John Gould Education and Workforce Development Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts. The award will be presented before 750 Bay State business leaders at the AIM Annual Meeting May 13 at the Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston.

Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries helps more than 8,200 people prepare for jobs each year – 7,700 people through Boston Career Link, the one-stop career center it operates, and another 560 people through its job training, including the First Step Job Readiness Program and the Human Services Employment Ladder Program. Goodwill’s mission is to help individuals with barriers to self-sufficiency to achieve independence and dignity through work.

“Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries plays a central role in matching qualified job candidates with companies across industries such as retail, health care and banking that require large numbers of entry-level employees,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

“The work done at Goodwill not only provides hard-working people a pathway into the job market, but also meets the need of employers to address the most prevalent challenge they face in a growing economy – finding good employees.”

Goodwill collaborates with hundreds of employers to promote and facilitate the hiring of the individuals it serves. The organization’s business partners include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Citizens Bank, Northeastern University, Stacy’s Pita Chip Company, and the TJX Companies. Many of those employers participate in on-site recruitment events, industry briefings, and career fairs at Boston Career Link, which connect businesses to qualified job seekers.

The Human Services Employment Ladder Program prepares individuals for entry level positions in the burgeoning human services field. The program’s business advisory council is made up of eleven employers, including Pine Street Inn, Vinfen, and Walnut Street Center.

“Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries and all our partners are honored to be recognized with the 18th annual John Gould award from AIM,” said Joanne Hilferty, who has served as president and chief executive officer since 1995.

“It’s fitting that Goodwill receive this award from a business association, since our collaborations with hundreds of Massachusetts employers brings trained, dedicated employees to the workforce, and helps people move to economic self-sufficiency. The award honors every staff member, partner and participant whose hard work makes all this happen.”

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the commonwealth. In 2000, the award was named after John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training activities in Massachusetts.   

Goodwill’s headquarters and the Career Link one-stop center are in Boston. The organization also operates  job training centers in Boston and Salem;  a distribution center in Boston;  and stores in Boston, South Boston, Allston/Brighton, Cambridge, Worcester, Somerville, Quincy, South Attleboro, and Hyannis. The organization employs 375 people.

Register for the 2016 AIM Annual Meeting

Topics: Skills Gap, Education, Workforce Training

Employers Give Mixed Grades to Community Colleges

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Feb 22, 2016 9:29:45 AM

Massachusetts employers give a mixed report card to the commonwealth’s community colleges, though more than a quarter of companies responding to a new AIM survey report having little or no contact with their local two-year institutions.

Education.jpgTwenty-six percent of the employers who responded to the survey, which was included in AIM’s monthly Business Confidence Index for February, rate the performance of their local community colleges as good. Another 25 percent rate that performance as fair, while 6 percent regard it as outstanding and 14 percent as poor.

Twenty-eight percent of employers say they do not have contact with community colleges. Most of those companies identify themselves as manufacturers looking for people with specific skills rather than college background.

“We are a learn-on-the job manufacturing company,” concluded one employer.

Other manufacturers appear to be turning to employer-driven training initiatives such as the Manufacturing Assistance Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC) to find qualified workers.

The survey results are based upon responses during February from 165 Massachusetts employers.

Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, said that while the association encourages employers to use the resources available from community colleges, it’s not necessarily negative that many do not.

“Companies have diverse training and educational needs both for recruiting workers and product development. Community colleges provide those services for some companies but may not be a fit for everyone,” Holahan said.

Providing workers with the skills needed for the global economy is a cornerstone of AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century economic plan for Massachusetts.  The document recommends expanding performance-based funding for community colleges and establishing five-year performance benchmarks on work-force development and civic learning for the entire system.

“Government and business must develop the best system in the world for educating and training workers with the skills needed to allow Massachusetts companies to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy,” the Blueprint says.

Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges serve 184,000 students from the Berkshires to Cape Cod. The institutions also conduct training, retraining, certification, skills improvement, and program development for more than 3,191 organizations including local business and industry, nonprofits, unions, as well as state and federal agencies.  

AIM’s closely watched Business Confidence Index will be made public next week.

Topics: Education, Workforce Training, Community Colleges

UMass Students, Waters Corp. Solve Science Challenges

Posted by Bob Paine on Jan 6, 2016 9:58:52 AM

For the past three years, AIM member Waters Corporation has worked with a groundbreaking program at UMass Amherst that prepares science students for real-world problem-solving in their careers. As a developer of innovative analytical science solutions for more than 50 years, Waters recognizes the benefits of preparing undergraduates for the realities of work in the science sector.

iCons-1.jpgThe UMass Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program is designed to address the growing demand for workers with a solid science and technology education who can also grapple with practical problems and situations. While gaining deep knowledge in highly specialized science and technology fields remains essential, now more than ever, students must also be adept at teamwork, communication, leadership, and interdisciplinary systems thinking.

Companies like Waters identify and recruit employees armed with these essential skills. The iCons Program is an innovator in developing students who can meet this need and thrive in competitive, fast-paced tech industries.

Such initiatives are consistent with AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century long-term economic plan, which identifies the ability of employers to hire qualified workers as the primary challenge facing the Massachusetts economy during the next decade.

According to UMass iCons Program Director Professor Scott Auerbach, iCons students form diverse student teams to tackle problems such as antibiotic resistance and climate change by working in classrooms, in research labs, and in collaboration with industry partners like Waters. Based on input from partner companies, Auerbach believes that iCons training gives students a competitive edge that enhances their careers and ultimately benefits the businesses they join.

Early on, the team at Waters saw the potential of this unique program and signed on as its first corporate partner. As a member of the UMass iCons Corporate Alliance, Waters has access to some of the best and brightest students at UMass for its internship program, and also works closely with the iCons leadership team to develop relevant classroom case studies. 

“Based on our experience, UMass iCons students work above and beyond their internship-level experience. These students fit easily into a team-based environment and address unique and challenging assignments not typically associated with undergraduate students,” said Daniel J. McCormick, Chief Technology Officer, Waters.

“Waters Corporation has benefited from the UMass iCons Program in ways that are measurable to our research and development programs.”

Topics: Skills Gap, Education, Training

AIM Next Century Honoree | Gloria Cordes Larson

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Nov 19, 2015 10:23:18 AM

Editor's Note - Bentley University President Gloria Cordes Larson was among three individuals and companies honored with Next Century awards at the AIM centennial gala on Monday.

Few individuals have left a more significant mark on the Massachusetts economy than Gloria Cordes Larson.  

Her unique intelligence and energy has defined a career dedicated to the public interest - as a cabinet secretary, as a respected lawyer, as a senior Federal Trade Commission official, as chair of the authority that built the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and now, as president of Bentley University.

One of her greatest achievements was leading Massachusetts through a period of breathtaking economic growth from 1993 through 1996.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Massachusetts economy, Education

AIM, MindEdge Announce E-Learning Initiative

Posted by Rick Lord on Sep 15, 2014 9:16:06 AM

Thousands of Massachusetts employers will gain access to state-of-the-art online professional development courses under an alliance announced today by Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and Waltham-based MindeEdge Inc.

AIM_MindEdgeAIM, the largest employer association in Massachusetts, will expand its existing lineup of human resources, legal compliance and management education courses with interactive e-learning offerings from MindEdge in areas such as project management, sustainability and finance. AIM and MindEdge will also collaborate on new courses important to employers such as LEAN management.

AIM spent a great deal of time seeking an online learning solution that reflects the excellence and high standards our member employers have come to expect from our in-person seminars and on-site training and education. MindEdge was founded in 1998 by Harvard and MIT educators and the company continues to innovate in the rapidly changing landscape of online education.

The 4,500 member employers of AIM are delighted to be working with such a world-class company located right here in Massachusetts.

“Employers in growing numbers are going online for employee training and education, but AIM wanted to be certain that the online courses we offered to members were effective and met the learning objectives of busy employers. We have done that with MindEdge,” said Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of the AIM Employers Resource Group.

All of the courses are mobile-enabled, meaning that employers and their workers will have the option to access information via a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

MindEdge specializes in higher education and professional development content and technology solutions. The company’s webtexts feature narrative, interactive learning case studies and simulations, as well as adaptive learning technology to maximize learner mastery of the content.

The MindEdge platform also includes a learning-management system that allows company training managers to monitor the progress of employees taking each course.

The alliance will provide the 4,500 member employers of AIM access to online courses in areas such as:

  • Communication
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Human Resource Management
  • International Trade
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Project Management
  • Sustainable Management

“We’re pleased to join AIM in offering online learning that is both convenient and effective for Massachusetts employers,” said Jefferson Flanders, CEO and President of MindEdge.

“AIM is acknowledged to be the leading provider of management and human resources training and education to Massachusetts companies. MindEdge will seek to extend that commitment to quality into the online world.”

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) improves the financial performance of member companies through a unique combination of lobbying, management and human-resource services that allow employers to control the environment both inside and outside their businesses. AIM provides management and HR services that increase workforce productivity and improve the recruitment, retention and training of talented people.

MindEdge, a learning company based in Waltham, provides leadership, management, communication, and educational solutions for organizations to help them meet their objectives.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Education, Training

New Test Accelerates Progress on Education

Posted by Brian Gilmore on May 2, 2014 11:59:00 AM

School committees in Massachusetts have an opportunity this month to accelerate progress towards key education reforms sought by employers.

How? By choosing to adopt the new assessment developed by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in place of the increasingly outdated MCAS instrument at the high school level. The new evaluation system was field-tested across the state earlier this year.

EducationAIM supports the efforts of state education officials to extend standards-based reform with an assessment system that will facilitate better evaluation of schools and educators, target support to students' individual needs, and benchmark to interstate and international standards.

PARCC differs from MCAS by enabling schools to assess student achievement on a yearly basis, and to carry it beyond the tenth- grade level where MCAS ends. It will also facilitate interstate comparison of educational effectiveness.

Through its participation and leadership in the PARCC consortium, Massachusetts has joined with other states to create uniform standards developed at the initiative of governors and state education leaders. Working together, the cooperating states are putting in place a system superior to any could have achieved on their own, at much less cost. 

As a result, we can begin to achieve the goals for our schools identified in a recent survey of Massachusetts employers co-sponsored by AIM: national and global standards, a culture of continuous improvement, sound preparation for both further education and the modern workplace, and a comprehensive assessment system as promised in the Education Reform Act of 1993.

The future of our economy depends on our ability and willingness to build on two decades of successful K-12 public school reform to maintain the national leadership and global competitiveness of our education system. We urge members of the employer community who serve, or have influence, on district school committees to support a timely transition to the PARCC assessment.

Topics: Education Reform, Education

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