James E. Glassman, managing director with JPMorgan Chase and head economist for Chase Commercial Banking, delivered a keynote presentation at the 184th Annual Dinner around the theme that challenges bring opportunities. He highlighted two fundamental workforce challenges:
Innovation is happening at a rapid rate: Times of great change and innovation are disruptive to the workforce, particularly for older workers who lack the ability to keep up through retraining. This accelerates the income divide.
The challenge is around pay, not jobs: Glassman cited that there are 7 million unfilled jobs in the US because businesses struggle to find people with the skills needed to fill them.
On the flip side, Glassman also explained the U.S. economy is experiencing a major demographic shift with the retirement of baby boomers. As these people exit the workforce, many job opportunities are opening by people who have a lifetime of skills that weren’t learned in college but over time on the job.
He concluded by recommending that we, as a nation and state, need to help workers understand where the job opportunities are and help them acquire the skills needed to fill those jobs. Ultimately these challenges bring many opportunities for the workforce and U.S. economy. It is up to us to take advantage of them.