Saturday, October 31, 2009

Labor: California’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs

California's Forgotten Middle Skill Jobs

Beginning of Executive Summary:

With a gross state product of $1.8 trillion dollars, California is the eighth
largest economy in the world, ahead of global powerhouses like Russia, Canada,
India and Mexico. Our diverse state economy encompasses internet startups in
Silicon Valley, the agricultural fields of the Central Valley and the bright lights of Hollywood. We’re also home to some of the largest college systems in the world. Our state’s sheer size combined with the breadth and depth of our industrial base and extensive education system have long put California at the forefront of economic innovation and opportunity nationwide.

However, we face deep, systemic economic problems today that threaten to undermine the programs, policies and industries that have long made us strong. Our ranking as a national innovator is slipping. With layoffs, state budget cuts, housing foreclosures and business shutdowns dominating headlines for the past year, some may believe California’s economy has gone into a permanent decline.
California has been through economic crises before, and we have always found our way out of them. The question this time around is whether we can develop the policies to prepare our workforce for a future turnaround. To do this, we must understand what kinds of jobs will be in demand, and to begin to prepare our workforce for them now.

Despite all the changes and challenges our state is experiencing today, and despite popular perception, one crucial fact will not change. Middle-skill jobs represent the largest share of jobs in California—some 49 percent—and the largest share of future job openings.