NIST MEP seeks new director; applications due May 8

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have posted the position for director, Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program after the recent announcement that the previous director had left to become director of the CDFI Fund. The director “directs and controls the activities of the MEP,” according to the posting. Qualifications required include, “A broad knowledge of and demonstrated experience in manufacturing, manufacturing and industrial extension programs, and/or technology-based economic development.” The posting is open to May 8 with applicants encouraged not to wait until the last day to apply. Historically, MEP has partnered closely with the states and most SSTI members.

Artificial intelligence and the US labor market

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already well integrated into the American workforce; in 2022, 19% of American workers were in jobs identified as most exposed to AI, compared to 23% in the least exposed jobs, according to a study by Pew Research. Jobs identified as most exposed are those in which the most critical responsibilities can either be replaced or assisted by AI. In contrast, the least exposed jobs cannot currently be replaced or assisted. A recent study identified U.S. cities at risk of losing jobs to AI, finding more than 10 million jobs at-risk within those cities.

Should job outcomes be the bottom line for higher education?

In Mississippi, the state auditor released a report  in September 2023 that rated academic degrees by whether the degree would lead to a well-paying job. He suggests that Mississippi invest more in programs in the subject areas leading to those high-paying, in-state jobs. Basing appropriations on immediate wage outcomes implies that near-term economic return is the only benefit that matters, and it is a theme that is recurring frequently. In contrast, liberal arts advocates take a more holistic view of the value of higher education.

CT establishes a Green Job Corps Program

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has signed into law a bill that establishes a green jobs corps program. This program will identify a talent development strategy for communities to address the impacts of climate change and reduce carbon emissions. The bill includes several provisions to accomplish those goals and a plan to market and recruit these jobs to individuals, especially from underrepresented populations. The bill’s goal is to ensure the development of CT's green technology industry and workforce by implementing green job work-based learning, certification, and degree programs that target green industries facing workforce shortages. These programs will be offered at career schools and institutions of higher education.

JOLTS data metrics: a look at the long-term trends

A new data analysis of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) by SSTI indicates again the significant impact the pandemic had on the manufacturing sector. While job openings in manufacturing ranged on a monthly basis from 0.8 to 3.9% of total manufacturing employment in the 20 years prior to the pandemic, it jumped to as much as 7.4% in April 2022. Job openings in manufacturing increased dramatically after the pandemic, presumably as a result of the American economy attempting to adjust for disrupted supply chains and a move to bring more manufacturing back to the U.S. Only education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services had job opening rates consistently higher.  For the economy as a whole, a review of the JOLTS data finds the number of job openings is still significantly higher than pre-covid levels, but is on a decreasing trend.  

Harvard introduces nationwide labor market mapping tool

College earnings premiums appear to be declining for the first time in decades and the value proposition of college is beginning to fade in the eyes of many, according to the Harvard Workforce Almanac. As education costs continue to skyrocket and student debt mounts, Americans are reconsidering whether college is truly worth the expense. One means of addressing the issue is to provide data to better inform decision-making. Harvard Kenedy School has recently made available a new tool, the College-to-Jobs Map, to connect regional higher education and workforce data, allowing users to visualize the graduate supply and employment demand challenges facing their communities. The data can also highlight labor market gaps, enabling practitioners to better align curriculum with workforce needs.

Job Quality Toolkit aims to move dialogue on quality jobs and retaining workers

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program at NIST recently released the Job Quality Toolkit which outlines eight “drivers of job quality.” The toolkit aims to enhance the discussion around job quality, becoming an “actionable tool… to improve the quality of every job,” which will improve employee recruitment and retention.

EDA announces 32 winners of $500 million Good Jobs Challenge

Thirty two industry-led workforce training partnerships from across the country were announced as the grant winners of the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Selected from 509 proposals, the regional partnerships are focused on removing barriers to training and are expected to increase more equitable labor participation with a focus on 15 key industries.

EDA’s Good Jobs Challenge nets 509 proposals for $500 million initiative

Manufacturing, healthcare services, information technology, building and construction, and transportation, distribution and logistics are the top five industries by number of applications submitted to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Good Jobs Challenge, according to EDA. Grantees for the $500 million program are expected to be announced this summer, with 509 proposals totaling $6.4 billion in requested funds submitted from every state and territory. The initiative is focused on removing barriers to training, particularly for those workers hit hardest by the pandemic, including women and people of color.

Recent Research: Growing concentration of older & larger firms becoming more impactful on US employment & job creation

Adding to the debate about whether smaller or larger businesses play an outsized role in the nation’s economy, a new Census Bureau report finds that the concentration of both older and larger firms has continued to increase in the U.S. economy over the last several decades, giving these firms an overall greater impact on employment and job growth than younger and smaller firms. Specifically, the report indicates that decreases in the national share of startup firms over the last several decades lead to an increased concentration of older firms, which in turn has had a greater impact on national employment and job creation than an increase in larger firms over the same period.


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