New Regional Labor Market Blueprints created for the Regional Workforce Skills Planning Initiative by teams of educators, workforce and labor market development professionals in seven regions across Massachusetts identify workforce trends and challenges as well as growth strategies for key industriesAcross all regions, finding and retaining talent is a top concern of employers.

Massachusetts can advance initiatives already underway through the Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet by following the direction of other states grappling with a shortage of skilled talent.  Many are expanding opportunities for students to earn industry-recognized credentials in high school that are tied to labor market demand.  Students who earn these credentials have an advantage finding high-demand jobs with good wages because the certifications are globally portable and valuable to employers. Often, industry credentials and certifications are “stackable”, which means multiple credentials can be accumulated over time to build up an individual’s qualifications to pursue a career pathway or another postsecondary credential.

Seven states currently encourage school districts to offer industry certification courses to students by providing a financial incentive through bonus funding for each student who earns an industry recognized credential.  We believe Massachusetts should join several other states that are moving in this direction.

While industry certification courses are often embedded within the curriculum of Massachusetts’ vocational technical schools, these schools serve just 20% of the student population.  Expanding these opportunities to students in traditional high schools should be a priority.

Graduates with industry-recognized credentials show higher performance in college and job placement rates and earnings over time.

MBAE believes expanding access to industry recognized credentials is a strategy Massachusetts should pursue.  It will help employers find the qualified candidates they need to grow their companies and will provide students opportunities to partake and excel in our economy.

We’ll be sharing more about this topic in the coming months.

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