Innovation Requires a Skilled Workforce

Reports on Workforce Preparation

As research shows, going forward, no nation will have a sufficient number of middle and high skill workers to meet global demand.  Competitive advantage will go to those areas and regions that are best able to meet the challenge. 

It is critical that California commit to addressing these evolving demands and take direct control over education curriculum, methodologies for teaching, and the oversight of public workforce training programs in order best prepare California workers and businesses to compete.  Below is a list of innovation reports related to workforce preparation.

Summaries of Reports

The Search for Skills: Demand for H-1B Immigrant Workers in U.S. Metropolitan Areas (Neil G. Ruiz, Jill H. Wilson, and Shyamali Choudhury, Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, 2012)

This report aims to provide state and metropolitan leaders in government, business, education, and workforce development with the information they need to respond to regional skills.  Findings include but are not limited to:

  • Demand for H-1B workers has fluctuated with economic and political cycles over the last decade and reflects a wide range of employers' needs for high-skilled temporary workers. 
  • One hundred and six metropolitan areas had a least 250 requests for H-1B works in the 2010-2111 period, accounting for 91 percent of all requests but only 6 percent of the national workforce. 
  • Metropolitan areas vary by the number of employers using the H-1B program and the cap status of the employers. 
  • H-1B visa fees designated for skills training and STEM, education have not been proportionately distributed to metro areas requesting the highest number of H-1B

It is the recommendation of this report that federal government, through a standing commission on labor and immigration, should work together with state and local leaders and the employers located in these high H-1B demand regions to understand their skills needs so that they con design an immigration policy that allows for foreign workers in greatest demand to enter and remain in the country, while at the same time developing skills training and educational programs to prepare exiting workers to be competitive in the global economy know and into the future.

The Evolving Structure of the American Economy and the Employment Challenge (Council on Foreign Relations, Michael Spence and Sandile Hlatshwayo, 2011)

The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolving structure of the American economy, specifically, the trends in employment.  Findings include, among other things:

  • Employment growth in the U.S. economy between 1990 and 2008 was substantial. 
  • Virtually all (97.7) of the incremental employment steams from the nontradable sector.
  • The leading employment sectors are government and health care.  In that order, both are considered nontradable.
  • Growth in other nontradable services that generated employment gains, retail, for example, has been driven in part by debt-finance consumption.
  • The tradable sectors experienced job growth in high-end services including management and consulting services, computer systems, design, finance and insurance.   

Recommendations state that to create jobs, contain inequality, and reduce the U.S. current-account deficit, the scope of the export sector will need to expand.  This will mean restoring and creating U.S. competitiveness in an expanded set of activities via heightened investment in human capital, technology, and hard and soft infrastructure. 


The STEM Workforce Challenge: The Role of Public Workforce System in a National Solution for a Competitive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce (U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration by Jobs for the Future, 2007)

The purpose of this report is to address a fundamental challenge that the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) industries face: our nation needs to increase the supply and quality of "knowledge workers" whose specialized skills enable them to work productively within the STEM industries and occupations.  Findings to help further address this challenge include:

  • Many students never make it into the STEM pipeline, because of inadequate preparation in math and science or poor teacher quality in their K-12 systems.
  • Many who are academically qualified for postsecondary studies in science and math fields at both the two – year and four – year levels, don't pursue those programs.
  • The low engagement with STEM – related learning is particularly acute among minority, female, and lower – income students, who comprise a growing proportion of the total college – going public.

    Recommendations include, among other things:
  • Tax, immigration, and innovation policies need to be reviewed through a lens of the STEM pipeline. 
  • Education and workforce preparation policies need to be carefully reassessed.


Science and Technology Skilled Workforce and Related Educational Issues (Robert C. Calfee, Charles S. Levy, Steven C. Fleisher; The California Council on Science and Technology, 1999)

The first phase of this report examines workforce needs with case studies of selected growth industries to investigate perceptions of workforce needs at various organizational levels. The second phase examines public school infrastructure by investigating what is known in the field of K-16 education, and about the extent and quality of opportunities for students to move through the various pipelines that generate needed talent. Findings include, but are not limited to:

  • Business and industry  is consistently looking for higher performance from its workforce on the following skill indicators:
  • Students are poorly prepared in science and technology
  • Commitment to work, a work ethic, and a general preparedness for the work-world are vital
  • Critical thinking and research skills are necessary
  • Technical writing and computer skills are important
  • Creativity, self-directedness, and teamwork are important
  • Role of community colleges and vocational schools is downplayed 
  • Findings on public school infrastructure comes from data analysis and interviews:
  • Socio-economic status is positively related to teacher credentialing. Economically better off schools have better credentialed teachers.
  • School population size is positively related to teacher credentialing. Larger population tend to have worse credentialed teachers
  • The need for connectedness between business and education exists.
  • There is a need for greater collaborative efforts within and between programs, institutions, and contexts.
  • Businesses seek employees with not only the necessary technical skills, but also the abilities to innovate, self-motivate, and to solve problems.

Recommendations include:

  • Encourage businesses and industries to begin maintaining in-house databases that seek to identify site and industry-specific workforce “needs” and to examine how well those needs are being met.
  • California needs to build coherent program of Science and Technology schooling to meet tomorrow’s needs.
  • California needs to ensure that future generation of teachers in math, science, and technology are an adequate and effective foundation for improved instruction.
  • California needs to inform high school students about Science and Technology careers.


Industry Sector Analysis of the Supply and Demand of Skilled Labor in California (The California Council of Science and Technology, 1999)

The purpose of this report is to assess the supply and demand of skilled labor for the science and technology industries of California.  The report will not try to duplicate earlier efforts but instead provide a synthesis of research finding and discuss the implications for the health of California's science and technology.  This report focuses on four specific questions:

  • What has been the trend in employment and wages?
  • Is there a shortage of skilled labor?
  • Is California's science and technology sector in danger of losing ground to other states?
  • What are the implications for public policy?

In 1999 the CCST identified a range of industries included in the science and technology sector and the diversity of skill requirements.  Those industry sectors include: aerospace, biomedical and biotechnology, computer and electronics, software and computer related services, and communications.  The basic findings of this report are summarized below:

  • Despite dramatic employment growth in computer software, science and technology's share of total employment in California has been relatively stable. 
  • Signals of labor shortage (as economist would define it) are mixed.  Labor supply is responding to changes in demand.
  • While the current labor market appears to work, the future depends on whether California's labor costs will remain competitive with other states and labor costs will depend on California's ability to supply skilled labor.
  • Keeping jobs in California will require increased investment in K-12 education and expansion of opportunities for lifelong learning.    

As described in the report the California Council of Science and Technology recommends that employment data should be supplemented by data on employment by industry with data on employment by occupation. 

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