Boston is a hub for healthcare, biotech and innovation, so it’s no surprise that those industries stand to add 20,000 jobs in the next 10 years. But what might surprise people is that those same jobs are the ones employers are finding hardest to fill.
About 75 percent of Boston-area employers said it was generally difficult to find workers with the right skills for the job, a recent Massachusetts Business Roundtable report said.
“That’s up from 69 percent in 2014,” J.D. Chesloff, executive director of Business Roundtable, said. “Of the open positions employers said they were having trouble filling, six out of 10 were STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs.”
In an effort to close what employers are calling a “skills gap" between workers’ education and what they need on the job, employers like Blue Cross Blue Shield, IBM, and National Grid have begun forging partnerships with local educational institutions over the last decade or so.
In total 28 metro-area companies and dozens of local high schools, community colleges and universities are working together to shape a future workforce better able to meet industry needs.
Boston’s unemployment rate–at 3.5 percent–is lower than the national average, but there were still about 95,000 workers in the metro area lacking jobs as of July, federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data reports. Economists and employers alike hope to shrink that figure by better aligning education with employer needs.
The partnerships provide pathways to skilled jobs for high school graduates as well as those with advanced degrees.
National Grid has established an engineering pipeline program for high school and college students that offers paid internships, professional mentoring and job shadowing. Biomanufacturing firm Shire prepares students for entry-level positions with its program at Quincy College. And Wentworth Institute of Technology's College of Professional and Continuing Education has teamed up with Shawmut Design and Construction to build a construction skills curriculum.
"To remain competitive, employers must be confident in their ability to find skilled and trained talent today and assured that the education and workforce pipeline is producing the workers of tomorrow," Marcy Reed, National Grid president and chair of the Business Roundtable board, said in a statement. "That is why they are reaching out in increasingly unique and targeted ways to schools from pre-K through graduate school to ensure the pipeline is producing the talent they need."
The job training efforts are a good deal for the region, Chesloff said, as most of the jobs participants will secure far exceed minimum wage salaries.
The top 10 fastest growing jobs in Boston over the next decade and median salary are as follows:
1. Home health aides, $30,295
2. Statisticians, $77,562
3. Interpreters, $61,918
4. Operations analysts, $74,623
5. Nurse practitioners, $127,158
6. Biomedical engineers, $74,616
7. Health technologists, $58,834
8. Web developers, $78,334
9. Diagnostics medical sonographers, $82,146
10. Cardiovascular techs, $79,848