Thursday, May 3, 2007

Assistant Labor Secretary Charles Ciccolella on the Job Market Outlook

I'm sharing more information I gathered at the Career Masters conference last week. Another awesome speaker was Department of Labor official Charles "Chick" Ciccolella. Here's my report on his presentation:

An unconventional public servant, Vietnam vet Charles Ciccolella shared his view of the U.S. economy and trends for future employment. Much of what he shared could probably be gleaned from reading the Occupational Outlook Handbook (a biennial publication of the DOL), but he was engaging conveyor of that information. Main points of his speech included the following:

  • The Internet has changed the way we do business, get news, and go shopping. It is altering the course of the national economy and future employment.
  • The U.S. economy is doing well—the GNP was up 3% last year. At 4.4%, unemployment is lower than it was in the 1990s. France’s long-term unemployment is 300% higher than ours.
  • 7.8 million new jobs have been created since 2003—more than the European Union and Japan combined.
  • We are the most productive workers in the world, which translates to higher wages and a higher standard of living. But people are worried about job security, health care, and gas prices.
  • We have evolved from a manufacturing economy to an information economy, and are working toward becoming a knowledge economy. But there is a tremendous skills gap.
  • Workers with education and skills are earning a premium, while those without are falling behind.
  • 50 million people change jobs each year and the average 40-year-old has had 10 jobs.
  • Education and Health Care are the fastest-growing industries at 30%. Business and professional services are next at 28%. Twenty-five percent of that percentage is in employment services (such as resume writers).
  • The only goods-producing industry that is up is construction, which is up 10%. These employers are actively recruiting for skilled labor, and he said that veterans will be especially well suited for this type of work.
  • People in other goods-producing industries need to look at retooling themselves to learn new skills.
  • The government allocates millions per year to workforce development, such as One-Stops, TANF, counseling, and placement—but people don’t get enough work training there. And, he added, much of this money is lost in bureaucracy.
  • Workforce development is currently training 200,000 workers per year, but the goal is to train 800,000 workers in the skills needed for the 21st century—and to make as much money as possible go to the workers through individual “career advancement accounts” to get them the skills they need and give them better control and choice.
  • The Hire Vets First campaign will strive to help vets decide what they want to do and translate their experience into a civilian resume.

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