By Cathleen Twardzik
At a recent Somerville Jobs Advisory Committee (JAC) meeting, Mayor Curtatone and Bruce Desmond, Alderman At Large and JAC Chair, presented the formal findings and recommendations about which the committee decided. In 2012, the mayor convened that action, assessing and examining the landscape of the local job market, as well as the workforce development system within the city of Somerville.
The findings of the report focused on the fact that at present, the workforce landscape is as follows: since 2005, the total number of jobs on the local level has stayed steady. The City of Somerville has enjoyed a low unemployment rate, which has been at about four percent in recent months, which is lower than national and state averages.
In addition, the young labor force makes up 60 percent of the workforce and the individuals whom are included in that category range between the ages 18 and 34. The educated labor force, all of which have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, comprises 52 percent of it.
“Our local workforce and jobs picture is strong,” said John Harding, a Senior Analyst in SomerStat and Staff Liaison to the JAC.
It must be noted that challenges exist. There is a higher unemployment rate for residents with the equivalent of a high school diploma, as well as for seniors.
“Many workforce development services and programs exist, but the system is very complex,” said Harding.
The JAC’s recommendations include improving workforce readiness, as well as promoting and synchronizing workforce development efforts by regional and local networks and partnerships. It is essential to “maximize the social return on workforce funding resources,” and to connect residents to the business community.
“The goal of the meeting was to convey key report findings and policy recommendations, and gather feedback from the audience. The audience was largely comprised of members of the press, regional workforce development practitioners, members of the local business community, local nonprofits/service providers and city staff/officials,” Harding said.
“The primary next step is for Mayor Curtatone and city staff from the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development and other departments to continue reviewing, weighing and prioritizing the broad menu of policy recommendations and potential implementation strategies,” according to Harding.
The types of jobs available in Somerville that could result because of this meeting is not definitive.
“At the outset of the JAC, the decision was made to remain neutral when it comes to specific job types and/or growth areas,” said Harding. “Instead, inquiry activities looked at bigger picture policy measures that would help continue building and supporting a strong jobs base and local workforce.”