Under the Hat: Better Now than Never - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat: Better Now than Never

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It may be one of the more puzzling economic developments of our time.

Unemployment is still hovering somewhere around 9 percent, there is still evidence we have not recovered from the tailspin of 2008 and plenty of nay sayers willing to boldly proclaim that Erie's economy has gone over the nearest bluff.

That's not the mystery: this is.

There are also currently some 5,000 unfilled jobs posted in this area, and there is a growing cry from employers that the jobs are there but quality workers are what's hard to find.

Call it a tale of two cities.

How can high unemployment and high job postings both exist in the same place at the same time?

That has prompted a massive undertaking from the Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, surveying a thousand companies in the first wave and more to come.

This is a detailed look into exactly what jobs are available here and what training is needed to fill them.

This effort may well rekindle the debate over the need for a Community College or it could press current trade schools to changing curriculum to meet the new demand.

It may also turn out that the disconnect has little to do with education at all.

Some employers say they will do the training and all they want are people willing to show up on time, work hard and be drug free.

Those companies say that in some cases even that standard is hard to attain.

Critics are quick to point out that this data is exactly the kind of number crunching economic developers should have been doing here all along, keeping a finger on the pulse of a modern, rapidly evolving economy.

I say, better now than never but collecting the information, even on an ongoing basis is only the start.

The real key becomes what to do with that information, to not only solve this mystery, but to solve the problem too.

Otherwise it's just one more questionnaire without a lot to show for it and another report collecting dust on a shelf someplace won't do any of us any good.

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