American economic growth is highly dependent on the quality and quantity of workers. Currently, the United States is facing a severe skilled and unskilled worker shortage that has long and short-term economic implications. - Global Risk Insights
By Chamber Chair Stacy Miller
My professional mentor, a long-time city manager, loved to share his favorite story about good planning. It involved “The Seven Generation Stewardship,” a concept that urges the current generation of humans to live and work for the benefit of the seventh generation (140 years) into the future. The Seven Generation Stewardship principle is believed to have originated with the Iroquois Indians and encourages this forward thinking in all decisions, resulting in a sustainable world, seven generations into the future.
I was reminded of this story during a recent presentation from Oxnard City Manager Alex Nguyen, who spoke of “Moore’s Law,” a computing term that originated around 1970. The simplified version of this law states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers, will double every two years.
Alex was referring to Intel’s chips which have improved performance a factor of 3,500 since they were introduced, reflecting a 90,000-times improvement in energy efficiency and at one-60,000th of the cost.
Had a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle undergone the same transformation, it would now travel at 300,000 miles per hour, achieve two million miles per gallon, and cost four cents. Wow!
Moore’s Law became a guiding light for an industry. Moore’s original article also envisioned a future for cheaper, more powerful semiconductors. He envisioned PCs, cell phones, self-driving cars and electronic wristwatches—all powered by ever-improving chips.
Both the Seven Generation Stewardship concept and Moore’s Law demonstrate the importance of true forward-planning and efficiency.
Alex’s point, however, hits a little closer to home. Like many of us, Alex is very concerned that today’s workforce is ill-prepared for tomorrow’s jobs, which as he points out, are here now.
Here in Oxnard, one of the top issues we hear from employers is a lack of trained and educated workers. There are local jobs waiting to be filled and employers are frustrated with the lack of candidates applying that just don’t meet the necessary criteria for the jobs. For the first time in our country, there are more job openings than there are eligible workers to fill them.
So how did we get here? There are several trends that have contributed to this. One of these is “The Silver Tsunami,” whereby 45% of the current workforce will be retiring and/or leaving the workforce within the next decade.
Another trend is the growth of the temporary worker. The rise of temporary workers is a workforce trend that’s here to stay and there are predictions that 40% of the workforce will be contingent on temporary workers by 2020.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, temporary workers make up 19% of all new jobs in the U.S. By 2020, more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce are expected to be temporary or contingent workers.
Just these two trends alone—people leaving the full-time workforce and the growing number of temporary workers--are big contributors to our lack of adequate, qualified employees.
According to "The Atlantic," it’s estimated that the U.S. economy will need as many as 100,000 new information technology workers every year for the next decade. By 2026, there will be 2.6 million new jobs in healthcare, one-fifth of all new jobs. The changing demand for specific skills is being felt across industries and, as a result, companies and organizations are investing in programs that empower the workforce of the future through job retraining.
So, what is being done locally and around the country?
But many workers are finding that job retraining alone is not enough. Support networks and social services are needed to support the transition to new types of work.
What else is being done here in Oxnard and Ventura County? I would love to hear from you! Please email me your thoughts and ideas at: firstname.lastname@example.org.