Baltimore Sun: Greater Baltimore Committee report identifies top family-supporting jobs in region over next decade

By Lorraine Mirabella
October 19, 2020 

Jobs such as carpenters, paralegals, web developers and electronics engineering technicians are projected to be among the Baltimore region’s top 20 family-supporting occupations over the next decade.

A report released October 19 by the Greater Baltimore Committee identified jobs in business services, construction, information technology and health care as having such potential for the region’s workers.

The business advocacy group recommended an array of ways to match workforce training and education with those jobs and to address workforce barriers such as structural racism and gender inequities.

“This report is an urgent call to action,” said Calvin G. Butler Jr., the GBC chair and an Exelon executive, in Monday’s announcement.

Greater cooperation is needed between business leaders and educators to create a workforce with the necessary skills and spur economic growth, said Butler, who is senior executive vice president of Exelon, the parent of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., and CEO of Exelon Utilities.

The report includes more than 50 recommendations to ensure the region has a pipeline of skilled workers. A GBC workforce development steering committee began developing the study, “Preparing for the Future. A Regional Workforce Development Initiative,” after the GBC’s board launched a workforce readiness initiative two years ago.

Family-supporting jobs are defined as those that pay an hourly wage that allows working adults with less than a bachelor’s degree to provide for their family’s needs.

Those types of jobs will be needed more than ever as the nation recovers from the pandemic, said Sandra Kurtinitis, president of the Community College of Baltimore County and a member of the GBC Board.

“Community colleges and workforce training programs will be at the forefront of the economic recovery and are more important than ever at this time,” Kurtinitis said.

Recommendations include finding ways to remove racial and systemic barriers to training and jobs, all of which “inhibits access to upwardly mobile jobs, employment preparation, employment and upward mobility for Black and Brown workers,” said Diane Bell-McKoy, president and CEO of Associated Black Charities and a steering committee member.

An earlier report by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, released two years ago, had identified the four growth industries. The GBC coordinated with the council to analyze demographic data for the top 20 occupations and identify trends within those occupations.

The analysis found that while African American workers represented 29% of the region’s population in 2018, African American workers only have representative participation — at 29% or higher — in 5 of the 20 identified occupations.

Recommendations include more coordination between businesses and workforce development groups and philanthropy leaders to create training and certification programs in high-need, high-growth industries as well as increased resources at the state and local level for basic adult education.

The region also needs improved partnerships between businesses and K-12 educators to expand career and technology education, dual enrollment, youth apprenticeships and work-based learning programs.

Too many high school graduates are not academically prepared for either college or careers and need significant remediation, the report found. It called for workforce training providers to incorporate basic math and literacy components into their programs when possible.

Programs also are needed to offer credentials from various industries to workers in transition, the study found.

The steering committee compiled an inventory of education and training programs by sector, emphasizing those that culminate in postsecondary credentials.

“Business and industry have a tremendous responsibility to engage more directly with the workforce system, remove barriers and improve education and training programs so that all residents of the Greater Baltimore region can access the education and training needed to fill jobs in the high-growth occupations identified,” said Donald C. Fry, the GBC’s president and CEO.

To read the complete story, visit the Baltimore Sun website.

Source: Baltimore Sun

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