SALEM – A Secretary of State audit finds that training for middle-skill workers is projected to fall short of employer needs for several occupations over the next 10 years. These middle-skill jobs, such as bookkeepers, truck drivers, and computer support specialists, are important to Oregon’s economy. Middle-skill jobs require some education and training beyond high school but less than a bachelor’s degree. Supply for these occupations is primarily from Oregon’s community colleges, private career colleges, and from state apprenticeship programs.
Comparing graduation rates to job forecasts by the Employment Department, auditors estimate that the colleges need to increase the supply of bookkeepers by 656 each year for the next ten years to serve employer needs.
“Increasing the number of middle-skilled workers in Oregon is an important element of job creation and expanding business in Oregon,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown. “Some Oregon employers have noted that in spite of high unemployment, it is still hard to find workers with the right skills.”
In contrast, auditors also found some occupations where there is a projected annual oversupply of trained middle-skill workers, including insurance sales agents and health care support workers, such as massage therapists and medical equipment preparers.
“We need a strategic, coordinated, statewide plan that identifies high demand jobs or industries with projected under-supply and train accordingly,” said Secretary Brown. “Having an adequate supply of skilled workers is central to a strong economy.”
Auditors recommend that the state’s workforce development efforts identify high-demand occupational clusters, and apply strategies to address any gaps in training. In addition, auditors recommend that the state consider aligning state funding to account for the higher cost of some career and technical education programs at the community colleges.
The audit report including the agency response can be found at www.sos.state.or.us/audits.
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Oregon Secretary of State