The Post-COVID Economy is Resulting in a Deep Divide Between Mid & High Skills and Lower Skills Workers
Randy Wolken, President & CEO
U.S. workers are emerging from the pandemic differently. People who have higher-skilled jobs can work from home, can work in businesses that serve them, and are more likely to work in regions or industries that are charging ahead. In contrast, lower-wage workers with fewer credentials, and those working in regions tied to tourism and public gatherings are being left behind. These trends are likely to continue. However, they were trends that existed before COVID-19 and offer lessons to us all.
The stock market and household wealth are reaching near record highs while lines stretch at food banks and applications for jobless benefits continue to grow. These are just a few of the trends that demonstrate the impact of the types of jobs workers have today. High and medium-skilled positions have seen a quick recovery. And, available jobs in technology and manufacturing are in abundance, as evidenced by many MACNY members who have significant job openings with few available candidates. This speaks to the urgent need to change the way we value jobs and prepare the current and future workforce. The future of sustainable work is tied to rapid skill learning and sustainable skills growth throughout a person’s career. Each of us, as employers and employees, is responsible for meeting this challenge. Now is the time to begin.
Education, job preparation, and up-skilling are in urgent need of change to meet this emerging challenge. The worker of tomorrow will need to learn an array of ever-evolving technology. Soft skills and hard skills will be required to secure mid-to-high skilled jobs. Career pathways are necessary for workers to navigate into these mid-to-high skilled jobs. Employers are on the frontlines of this transformation. Employers who do this well will win the race to employ and maintain the talent necessary.
MACNY and Partners for Education and Business (PEB), along with our partners, the Central New York School Boards Association, are laser-focused on creating pathways in careers beginning in elementary school and beyond. We need to prepare the community, specifically the present and future employees, for this journey to a higher skilled economy. As demonstrated by the current recovery, there will be plenty of work for those who have elevated skill levels. This is where we need to put our focus. We ask you to join us in this effort throughout Manufacturing Month and beyond.
If you would like to learn more about our efforts to close the skills gap, please contact me or any MACNY/PEB staff member. Addressing the skills gap and skilled worker shortage are two of our top priorities here at MACNY and PEB. Although we provide a host of information and services, these two areas are holding back many of our members’ rapid recovery and growth. We could use your support and help. Thanks for all you are doing already – and what you will do in the months ahead.