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Report: Pioneer Valley Falling Behind in Skilled Workforce

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — The Pioneer Valley is falling behind when it comes to training people with the skills they need to find a competitive job in today’s economy.

The report on labor market trends by the Commonwealth Corporation, part of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the Federal Reserve says the valley faces two main challenges, education and age.

It has the highest number of people in the state without a high school degree. And while everywhere is seeing baby boomers retire, it was the only area in the last decade to lose new workers, those 16 to 24-years-old.

“So, when you combine that picture of lower levels of educational attainment and potential shortages due to the aging population, you have some skill alignment issues,” said Robert Clifford, Policy Analyst at the Federal Reserve, Bank of Boston.

What that means is that people need more education but the kind that’s going to get them a job.

“We need to make sure the people who live here have the skill sets they need to be able to work here,” said Nancy Snyder, President, Commonwealth Corporation.

Snyder said more needs to be done to get people to schools like Holyoke Community College for training in healthcare, education and green jobs. For advanced manufacturing jobs, she said the area needs to be creative and offer adult classes at night in high schools.

“It’s really in those career and technical high schools where they’ve got the equipment and a lot of the instruction,” said Snyder.

Snyder said the more trained workers there are in the Pioneer Valley to hire, the more businesses will stay here and the more businesses will be drawn here.

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