Investing in demand-driven, high-growth occupations is key

As the region’s unemployment rate continues to drop, there are more jobs unfilled than there are workers to fill them. How do communities promote effective training and education programs to up-skill the region’s job seekers to build talent pipelines and fill workforce demand? SCPa Works CEO Jesse McCree joined PA Labor & Industry Deputy Secretary Eileen Cipriani on WITF’s SmartTalk to discuss.

“SCPa Works invests in, evaluates, and advances high-impact workforce development programs that aim to build our region’s workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said McCree. “Right now, the number one concern for PA businesses is finding and developing a skilled workforce. It’s a good problem to have, but it’s a challenge nonetheless.”

The Harrisburg-Carlisle metropolitan region currently has an unemployment rate of 3.2%, but the unemployment rate is truly not the only story as our region seeks to continue to build a diverse, growing economy.

“Labor force participation rate is a critical number that we look at,” said McCree. “Currently, our [participation] rate is around 65%, which is above the commonwealth and nation’s average. As businesses are seeking workers, they are beginning to recruit from labor pools that had previously been untapped. We believe this is great for our region’s economy.”

“We also look at high-growth occupations, such as STEM, that provide strong career pathways and living wages.”

PA Labor & Industry Deputy Secretary of Workforce Development, Eileen Cipriani, discussed the growth of key sectors across the commonwealth, including construction, healthcare and advanced manufacturing.

During a time of low unemployment, McCree also noted, it is critical to build a workforce development and training system that is truly demand-driven: the needs of the business community are to be the driving force behind training investments. “SCPa Works is committed to creating a business-led, demand-driven system that responds to the dynamic needs of the regional economy. Our investments and programs are strategically aligned with the needs of businesses to recruit, hire and retain a talented workforce with in-demand skills.”

Check out the full interview on WITF’s SmartTalk.