Addressing the Growing Job Skills Gap in Washington State
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SEATTLE – March 27, 2013 – A report, “Great Jobs Within Our Reach,” from the Washington Roundtable and The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. reveals a large and growing gap between the number of open jobs in Washington state and the number of skilled workers available in-state to fill those positions. If the state takes steps to fill the growing gap, it would mean 160,000 jobs across many sectors in Washington state by 2017, spread across the economy, and $720 million in new state revenue annually. According to the research:
There are 25,000 “acute” unfilled jobs in Washington today – jobs that have been unfilled for three months or more due to a lack of qualified candidates. Eighty percent of these jobs are in high-demand health care and high-skill STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines such as computer science and engineering.
The gap is projected to grow by another 5,000 jobs per year, reaching 50,000 jobs, by 2017. Ninety percent of those openings will be in health care and STEM roles.
Due to the multiplier effect, filling the job skills gap could result in an additional 110,000 jobs across many sectors by 2017, for a total of 160,000, and reduce the unemployment rate by up to two percentage points.
Filling the job skills gap would generate $720 million in annual state tax revenues and $80 million in local tax revenues by 2017.
Eliminating the job skills gap will require a set of key actions: (1) increase capacity and throughput of key programs in higher education; (2) align community college and technical school degree programs with employer needs; (3) enhance student interest and performance in STEM subjects in the K-12 system; (4) recruit skilled workers from other states; and (5) support international immigration.
For its research analysis, BCG used statewide employment data as well as quantitative and qualitative data collected from interviews with Washington Roundtable members and human resource experts regarding job skills gaps encountered within their companies.