Are You Part of the Skilled Workforce?

Velta WorleyThe way we do work is changing. Think about it: what jobs have disappeared that we remember in days gone by? I remember having a milkman deliver our milk, butter, and cheese on a regular basis. Where did he go? I’ve watched movies that show elevator operators who pushed the buttons for the floors we needed to get to. Why did we need an elevator operator in the first place? There was a time when you could call a company and speak to a live person who would route the phone calls – I miss that!

Now we get to listen to a variety of options and try to figure out what extension we need. I remember when Walmart had greeters who were friendly and said, “Welcome to Walmart!” I don’t see that anymore. Cashiers seem to be getting scarcer as well and being replaced with self-service check out stations.

Corporate America is trying to save money by cutting corners and eliminating overhead. And technology makes it easier to replace people with machinery, equipment, apps and getting things shipped right to the front door so that we no longer need the milkman, the cashier, or the phone operator. It looks like some of the lesser skilled jobs are being eliminated. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of jobs available, but it does mean that we all need to look at the skills we have and make a decision about increasing or changing our skills. Our Gulf Coast Workforce Board has determined that by 2024, 58.8% of all jobs in our region will require education or training beyond high school, and a majority of those jobs will be middle skills jobs. That means that we will need a skilled workforce that has some post-secondary education and/or on-the-job training.

So what is being done to have a skilled workforce? I’m seeing school districts in our region that have Career and Technical Education (CTE) as part of their curriculum. Students have the opportunity to learn about careers they might be interested in and get opportunities for hands-on learning and internships. Some of the students might consider going on to college or go into their career field right out of high school. Local community colleges also offer stackable programs that are designed to be completed quickly. A stackable program is a one-semester certificate that can lead to an Associates Degree or above, depending upon the individual, by stacking credentials.

I earned my college degree in the 1990s and have to continually update my computer skills to keep up with the demands of work. I am fortunate in that I receive training periodically so that I am equipped to fulfill my job duties. Many employers don’t have the resources to provide training on the job but require job seekers and their employees to already have the skills needed to perform the job functions. There are many programs available in our region that makes it easy to get training. Visit one of our local Workforce Solutions offices to speak to a Staff person about opportunities that may lead you to a certificate or a degree. Let’s all be part of the skilled workforce and not become obsolete!

Velta Worley is a member of the Regional Navigator Team specializing in training, educating, and assisting community partners, Workforce Solutions staff, and job seekers throughout the 13 county region with adult education and literacy, and employment for people experiencing homelessness. She has over 8 years corporate management experience, and over 8 years with Workforce Solutions as a Facilitator, Technical Assistant, and Office Manager, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Sam Houston State University.

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