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How an Aging Workforce and Growing Skills Gap Is Threatening Montana’s Economy

At four percent, Montana’s unemployment rate is a full percent lower than the national average. While that’s a good sign, Montana employers’ demand for suitably skilled workers to fill the abundant positions available are being hamstrung by an issue that’s all too familiar to workforce and economic development experts: the widening skills gap

The Helena Independent Record suggests that an aging workforce is creating a significant number of vacant positions. Montana is expected to lose about 120,000 baby boomers from the workforce over the next decade, yet it’s estimated that only 80,000-90,000 employees will enter the workforce to fill those positions within that time span.

Matt Springer, director of the state’s workforce project RevUp Montana, spoke with the Record, sharing a belief held by many economic development experts around the country: the skills gap demands immediate attention.  

"The skills gap is anywhere between 24,000 and 100,000 people where we won't find people qualified to fit positions," Springer told the Record. "I'm not sure the urgency is there that kind of mirrors the demand that is there."

Springer’s proposed solutions to mend the skills gap—increasing access to higher education and encouraging organizations to attract and train the right talent—can both be accomplished when organizations have the insight into the upskilling opportunities they can provide to current and prospective employees.

As previously noted, the skills gap worsened due to the rapid rate of retirement among baby boomers—estimated to be as high as 10,000 a day—is hardly unique to Montana. An aging workforce and a cohort of new employees lacking the credentials to effectively supplant them makes for a volatile combination. Thankfully, more than ever, organizations have options to bridge the skills gap. 

To read the full article covering Montana’s workforce woes, click here.

CAEL works in communities throughout the country to provide solutions for workforce and economic development issues like the one faced by industries throughout Montana. For details on the solutions CAEL can provide, click here. For some examples of such CAEL’s work in action, click here.     


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