Greater Philadelphia is experiencing parallel workforce crises: employers in the region lack a strong talent pipeline to fill critical jobs, while an alarmingly high percentage of adults are in the labor force only marginally or not at all.
- 45% of Philadelphians are neither working nor looking for work, and 40% of Philadelphians who are working are earning poverty wages.
- At the same time, employers in key industry sectors lack adequately trained workers to fill fast-growing, mid-skilled positions that pay a family-sustaining wage.
The underlying cause of these parallel crises is the mismatch between the level of skill required for high-growth jobs and the much lower skill level of many working-age adults.
- A majority of working-age Philadelphians are “low literate.”
- But 70% of available jobs in the region require at least an intermediate level of literacy.
Thus, more than half the workforce (550,000 people) in Philadelphia is forced to compete for less than one-third of available jobs (211,000 jobs). It is no wonder so many Greater Philadelphians are out of work or earning poverty wages. The only way to stem this labor imbalance is to find innovative ways to help low-skilled workers build their capabilities and move into career pathways.
While Greater Philadelphia has a particularly severe labor imbalance, the challenges faced by the region are part of a nationwide trend. At the same time as our economy is demanding more skills, our educational system is producing fewer skilled adults. Indeed, the U.S. is the only industrialized country where young adults are less likely to have graduated high school than the previous generation. It is not surprising, then, that more than two-thirds of Americans in a December 2009 poll say they are not confident that their children’s generation will be better off than their generation.
Click here to see JOIN‘s solution to the parallel workforce crisis.
The Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board has recently published two eye-opening reports on the workforce crisis in the region: