Job creation tactics suggested in report

By Chelsea Sheasley, Metro West Daily News

BOSTON – Massachusetts can create more jobs by investing in infrastructure and public education, training workers caught in a skills gap and marketing state goods and services, according to the final report of the Legislature’s Jobs Creation Commission.

Commission co-chairwoman Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, released the report at the State House Wednesday.

“It will be, it has been already, a blueprint for us continuing to get out of the recession,” she said.

Created during the height of the recession in 2008, the commission held hearings across the state to conduct a review of the Massachusetts economy and recommend strategies for job creation.

The 69-page report, as well as nearly 900 pages of supporting documents, will be posted for the public on the Legislature’s website in the next few days.

The report identified existing strengths, including a highly educated work force and key established industries such as information technology, life sciences and health care.

But the panel also noted a lack of skills in the work force for available jobs in the so-called “STEM” fields of science, technology, education and math.

The commission said there were more jobs in those fields than people with the right qualifications. Barriers to employment for veterans, minorities and older workers, as well as regional disparities were also identified.

“We’ve come a long way since 2008 and we’ve seen positive signs that our economy is on the path to recovery,” said Spilka. “Yet we realize that not all folks who want a job have a job or they may be still underemployed.”

The commission recommended four steps to create jobs, including efforts to increase demand for goods and services made in the state, more state investment in infrastructure, increased support of higher education institutions and a better matching of education and training to job demand, and to coordinate work force training programs with job search resources.

Recent passage of the health care cost containment, economic development and energy reform bills are steps in implementing these strategies, Spilka said.
Bonnie Biocchi, president of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, put infrastructure development and community college training at the top of the list for improving employment in the region.

“In order to grow, you have to have the right infrastructure like water, wastewater, electricity, roads that can carry those goods and services,” she said on Wednesday.

MetroWest has fared better than many other parts of the state over the past few years. While statewide unemployment rose to 6.3 percent in August, the August unemployment rate in Framingham was 4.9 percent.

The MetroWest Economic Research Center at Framingham State University reports that regional unemployment was at 5.3 percent in February 2011 and 4.9 percent in February 2012.

The national unemployment rate in August was 8.1 percent.

Link to the original article: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/top_stories/x21084696/Job-creation-tactics-suggested-in-report

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