First Word: Job One

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers
Editor in Chief
Business Facilities

By Jack Rogers
From the March/April 2015 issue

It seems like everyone finally has gotten the memo about the shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. Workforce training has vaulted to the top of the list of economic development priorities.

Businesses eyeing locations for new facilities want to know if there’s an available workforce with a 21st-century skillset ready to go the moment the ribbon is cut. Helping these businesses offset the cost of workforce training, a tried-and-true remedy in recent years, doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

The most successful locations in today’s ultra-competitive market are reaching down deep to meet this challenge—in some places, all the way down to their elementary schools. They’re steering their youth into STEM-oriented programs that will give these students a head start on a path leading directly to high-tech jobs with hefty salaries.

Well ahead of the curve are the states and metros that are working with industry leaders to tailor high school, tech school and community college curricula to produce graduates with the skills required for advanced manufacturing and other emerging growth sectors. Those at the front of the pack are engineering dual-credit programs enabling high school grads to earn equivalent two-year tech degrees by the time they get home from the senior prom. Several states also are moving to foot the bill for two free years of tech school or community college for eligible students.

We encourage you to get up to speed on the most innovative workforce training initiatives by joining Jenny Vickers as she tours the leaders in our cover story. Workforce training is Job One, and Jenny will tell you who’s getting the job done.