BRISTOL COUNTY BUSINESS NEWS The Ofﬁcial Publication of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce, Inc. October 2017 Edition
October is Workforce Development Month October is “Workforce Development Month” at the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce. Workforce Development Month places a spotlight on workforce issues and opportunities impacting Bristol County businesses, educational agencies, economic development organizations, labor unions, elected officials, and other stakeholders. Another purpose in promoting Workforce Development Month is to highlight the programming and work of the Center for Workforce and Community Education at Bristol Community College. This October marks the fifth year in a row that the Chamber and the Center for Workforce and Community Education at BCC have collaborated in producing a Workforce Development Month. The service area of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce is an important economic hub. In acknowledging that impacts from outside factors such as globalism and the national recession were difficult challenges to overcome it should also be noted that the Chamber’s service area accounts for more than 40% of total employment within the Providence/Fall River metropolitan region. Addressing the region’s present-day workforce needs has required the Chamber to tackle a chronic educational attainment gap that has impeded many residents from achieving the American dream. This is why the Chamber, through its Education Committee, works toward improving the adult educational attainment level. Adult educational attainment is very important to Chamber member employers because the entry level requirements for today’s jobs typically require problem solving skills and technological literacy. Of the greater than 2000 employers in Fall River,
most of the available jobs are in the medical industry, education, municipal services, niche manufacturing, food services, distribution and retail services sectors. Many of these employment positions now require more complex skills diversity than what had been needed in 20th century manufacturing positions. They are the skills often associated with the educational equivalent of an associate’s degree. Meanwhile, less than 18% of adults living in Fall River possess an associate’s college degree, or higher. This is an issue that must be addressed.
over 2000 jobs. These jobs, which allowed for lower educational attainment levels are not coming back.
Educational attainment and employability are clearly connected. Since 2001, an employment gap linked with educational attainment has developed where there are more potentially employable people living in the Fall River area than there are available jobs. In 2006, the jobs gap in Fall River was 44,638 available workers to 36,341 jobs. This equated to an almost 9% workforce gap in the wrong direction. In 2009, the employment gap amplified due to the National Recession.
Addressing workforce education through Workforce Development Month is also critical to the success of marketing the region’s competitiveness. Look to the Commonwealth’s marketing of its innovation technology cluster as to why a skilled labor force matters. That is why alignment of our educational and publicly funded workforce development systems with business and industry are critical next steps to economic success. Indeed, much of the Chamber’s program of work through the Education Committee addresses educational attainment and workforce education. These efforts must continue to be supported and promoted. Recognizing the need of a Workforce Development Month is the starting point.
Here is where the link between educational attainment and employability becomes clear. Prior to 2006, low skilled manufacturing was Fall River’s largest source of employment. In 2003, a Fall River resident could get a job in one of the many area mills regardless of their educational attainment. Today, the worker with limited educational attainment is in a really bad situation that is getting worse. This is because over 10,000 low skill manufacturing jobs related to the garment and textile industries have been eliminated or outsourced. The availability of wholesale and retail sector jobs have also declined dramatically. Both sectors have declined by
2017 Co-Title Sponsors
Local unemployment is finally receding. Chamber member companies like Amazon, John Matouk, Inc., R.I Novelty, Stop & Shop, St. Anne’s Hospital, SouthCoast Health Systems, Merrow Sewing, RDA Insurance, Raw Seafood, People Inc., Blount Fine Foods, are hiring. The problem to resolve is that many residents are being left behind due to a lack in necessary job skills.
Robert A. Mellion, Esq. President and CEO
2017 Silver Sponsors 2017 Media Partners