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Fall River: A Skills Shortage and a Labor Surplus

April 22nd, 2011

It’s official. Fall River has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. At 18.4% for March 2011, it’s the highest in Massachusetts. So there should be plenty of candidates for all of our job openings, right?

Wrong.

Jobs are going begging in Fall River and across the country.

According to Edward Gordon, author of Winning the Global Talent Showdown, 32% of US manufacturers report a “skill shortage in the midst of this great recession.”

It gets worse.

He claims that we are not training the present or future workforce for today’s jobs, much less the jobs of the future.

“The talent pipelines are broken. Younger people have long spurned science, technology, engineering and math-related (STEM) jobs. America’s businesses have chronically underinvested in training their own workers, or helping support higher quality science/math education programs in their communities to better prepare youth for careers in a high-tech world economy.”

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Fall River, where, last year, officials tried to attract a casino, even if it meant losing a biotechnology park. The casino, it was said, offered hundreds of low skilled jobs. Fall River has thousands of workers with outdated skills.

All is not lost, according to author Gordon. There is a ray of sunshine in the growing education-employer collaboration.

“The good news is that public-private partnerships in many communities across America are now rebuilding local education-to-employment systems to restore the jobs pipeline in a 21st-century economy that will be more technology-based with each passing year.”

May that sunshine fall on Fall River’s talent pipeline.

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