California Has Jobs but Needs More Skilled Workers

By Sarah Le, Epoch Times
October 10, 2014 Updated: October 9, 2014

LOS ANGELES—Job gains in California have been outpacing the nation in the last few years and are forecasted to continue, according to economists. 

Jobs grew by 1.8 percent in the U.S. and 3 percent in California in 2013. Job growth is expected to increase in the nation in coming years, and growth in California may wane but is still projected to remain above the national rate, according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation’s (LAEDC) 2015 Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook.

But there are concerns that California’s workforce is not keeping up with demand.

“There are a lot of high-skilled and middle-skilled jobs here in Southern California, but we’re not meeting our workforce needs locally,” said Robert Kleinhenz, Chief Economist for the LAEDC.

Kleinhenz spoke on Wednesday, along with various business leaders and educators, at the LAEDC’s biannual Economic Forecast event. They discussed how to support a relevant and competitive workforce for the coming economic changes in California, with a special look at the Southern California region.

Skilled Labor Deficit

By June of this year, the state recovered all the jobs that were lost during the 2008 recession.

While this is good for the economy, chancellor of California State University, Timothy White, said he is worried that many people won’t have the opportunity to prepare for those jobs by attending a college or a university. He says the skyrocketing tuition costs, partially due to a decline in state funding over the last 20 years, is a major hurdle for many.

“It’s in the state’s best interest to provide adequate and predictable funding, and that has eroded in California, and so I think that’s where we’re going to actually continue to lose on the global marketplace if we don’t reverse that trend,” he said.

For four-year public colleges, instate tuition is 215 percent higher this year than it was in the 2004-2005 school year, according to The College Board Annual Survey.

California increased state funding for higher education by 11 percent this year, however it is still far below pre-recession levels, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

The Public Policy Institute released a study in September called “California’s Need for Skilled Workers,” which says the work force that is retiring has a higher level of education than that coming in. 

The study projected that 1.5 million jobs would not have enough workers with at least some post-secondary education to fill them by 2025.