Like many other States, Vermont faces a significant challenge in creating, attracting, and holding on to high wage jobs. There are no guarantees and no entitlements to good jobs, with their resulting wealth creation and good living standards. Some jobs, such as those in health care, agriculture, construction, and tourism will continue to be available locally. The rest, including jobs in important sectors like manufacturing and information technology are up for grabs. Regions, states, and countries will be competing for the best employment opportunities.
To be successful in attracting and holding on to these jobs, Vermont must have something that is not available elsewhere. Our workforce can provide that unique advantage. To be successful, all Vermonters must:
• Obtain a well-rounded education, including solid basic knowledge in reading, written and oral communication, math and science, and career awareness.
• Be innovative and creative with a passion for lifelong learning.
• Have the personal and social skills to succeed in collaborative workplaces.
Creating a highly skilled workforce goes beyond the work of a single organization. It will require the commitment of all of the citizens of Vermont, including the public education system, parents, employers, higher education, workforce training programs, social service organizations, and political and private sector leaders.
Vermont's attractive environment and high quality of life will only translate into economic prosperity if we are able to add the advantage that a skilled workforce can provide. Either we will successfully compete with our skills, or we will see the good jobs, and a Vermont way of life, slip away. The solution lies in a collaborative effort focused on multiple strategies;
1) All children arrive at school ready to learn.
2) Full statewide implementation of the High Schools on the Move or similar school improvement initiatives that lead to greater evidence of enhanced learning and graduation for all students.
3) Citizens have access to and recognize the importance of postsecondary education and lifelong learning.
4) Employers affirm their support of education by providing workplace experiences for students, requesting records of an individual's performance in education, and investing in the continuing skill enhancement of their employees.
Prepared by Chip Evans, Executive Director, Workforce Development Council www.labor.vermont.gov