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The Changing Workforce: Opportunities & Challenges for our Community

Lifelong Learning: Adapting to a flexible labor force and to structural changes in the economy as well as greater investment by job seekers, workers, and businesses in lifelong learning needs to become a part of the business culture. As industries shift in location, as well as composition, the labor force needs to be broadly trained and flexible.

Diverse Workforce: The variety of demographic variables is steadily increasing thereby influencing the types of services offered, the delivery of services and the cost of services. The ability to build and advance a workforce that reflects the community will contribute to economic growth.

Educated Population: Dutchess County has a well-educated workforce. Residents need to understand the correlation between wage and educational attainment while recognizing the need and value in all occupations and the impact they have on the success of the community as a whole.

Aging Population: The county’s population is aging, as in the country as a whole. This will lead to growth in healthcare occupations, and a reduction of the working age labor force. The opportunities in health care will increase, but the healthcare financing needs will tax state and local budgets.

High-Skilled, High-Wage Occupations: The target occupation is the high-skilled and high wage occupations. Dutchess County already has many such occupations. The ability to attract more will depend on the availability of a skilled workforce, lifelong learning opportunities, the quality of life and the capability to be responsive to industry demands.

Growth in Low-Skilled, Low-Wage Occupations: A sizeable share of the county’s labor force is employed in low wage occupations. The county will see continued growth in similar positions because of the projected expansion of the retail and service sectors. The ability to continuously upgrade job skills and address indirectly related workforce issues such as transportation and housing will influence a person or family’s ability to increase and or maintain their economic situation.

Job Quality and Security: Quality jobs depend on employers who support and reward lifelong learning, and recognize skills with wage and promotion opportunities.

Attraction and Retention: The number of individuals age 25-44 is decreasing despite the pool of qualified candidates who graduate from educational institutions in the Hudson Valley. Improved communication and linkages between employers and colleges in the county are a good start towards attracting and retaining this potential pool of young workers.

Computer Literacy: Increasingly jobs require computer literacy. The more Dutchess County residents can utilize computers and the Internet, the more skills they can acquire and update, and take full advantage of online.

Cluster Support Institutions: Key industry clusters, such as semiconductors and biotechnology, rely on support institutions for ongoing success. Important linkages include training providers and higher education institutions, which provide the labor force with high quality, up-to-date skill sets. The clusters and support institutions must be nurtured, and the communication among partners and linkages constantly improved.