I write in reference to the stories, "Payroll adds 11,000 in Washington state" and "Unemployment aid requests fall to 3-year low." These reports in The Olympian were welcome news.
But in terms of creating new jobs in our state, we are making progress only inch by inch, not mile by mile.
If we’re going to make a real dent in lowering unemployment over the long term, we must do the basic work necessary to develop a highly skilled workforce.
That means starting early and starting strong.
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As Mike Edwards noted in his March 2 commentary on the current skills gap, four in 10 Washington state employers are reporting that they cannot find workers qualified to fill open jobs.
And the skills gap is likely only to get worse in our state and nationwide.
Edwards says we need to address this problem at the earliest stages of a child’s development, from birth to five. I could not agree more.
Studies show that quality early learning programs can make a huge difference in helping children, especially at-risk kids, complete high school and go into the workforce with the skills businesses need.
The hard, simple reality is this: Jobs will not be open to those who don’t have the education and training to qualify for them.
If we want to protect our competitive edge, we need to do more – not less – to make sure our youngest children develop the foundations on which the skills to succeed can be built.