We Need Jobs, But Also Skilled Workers

computer_handsThe Boston Globe recently reported that “the state’s tech sector is growing fast, but a shortage of qualified workers is preventing Massachusetts from becoming the capital of the nation’s innovation economy”, according to the 2014 State of Technology Report released by the Mass Technology Leadership Council. “Creating the jobs isn’t the hard part – filling them is the hard part,” said Tom Hopcroft, chief executive of MassTLC. “We can’t find enough people with the skills to fill all of these tech jobs.”

These are not the only types of jobs that remain open according to this Boston Globe graphic, which shows that it is not just the high end tech jobs that are having trouble finding workers.

So, what is worse – not having the jobs, or not being able to provide the workers for those companies that are expanding? It should be the former.  Trying to create new jobs is not only difficult, but there is actually no proven way to do it.  If what we have is a gap in training, or the proper transportation to access trained workers, we should be able to remedy that.

Local and state government should be partnering with local community colleges, vocational schools, and universities to work directly with those businesses that are fortunate enough to be growing and hiring.  If we don’t fix this imbalance expeditiously, we may have bigger problems.  Companies will begin expanding elsewhere and, then not having any local jobs to fill would be a lot worse.

The Uptick in Tech – part two

This blog post was submitted by Ben Breslau, Managing Director, Americas Research at Jones Lang LaSalle.

The third impact of technology on our markets is through the workplace. Here the confluence of demographics and improving technology is enabling and inspiring progressive companies to redesign how we think of space. Employees are clearly more mobile, as technology allows the flexibility to work from anywhere and on any device. But even within the space, tenants are harnessing more open, collaborative, flexible, efficient, and sustainable workplaces.

The driving force for tenants in the past was typically cost, but now in addition to driving efficiency the space itself is being looked at as a way to enable productivity as well as recruit top talent. These trends likely mean lower demand for commodity office space, and a redefinition of the characteristics driving space demand. Office space is not going away, but the target is moving.

One question that I always get is whether the tech boom is just the tech bubble 2.0. Is it sustainable? We recently did an analysis of technology P/E ratios as compared to the dot com bubble and found that valuations remain near the lows of the last 15 years. Today’s tech companies are cash rich and startups have been funded more conservatively. I won’t pretend to know what they all do, but many are making products that enhance and improve the lives of people and the productivity of businesses.

We think this tech wave is still in its early to mid stage with plenty of room to run.