Worker shortages seen in some middle-skill occupations
An audit by the Oregon secretary of state's office has found that the state's workforce development programs could be better coordinated.
The audit released Tuesday found that the job training programs at the state's 17 community colleges are not accurately targeting all occupations where future employees will be needed.
The greatest gaps are in so-called middle-skill jobs that require education beyond high school but less than a bachelor's degree, says the audit, titled 'Improvements needed to better meet Oregon's middle-skill workforce needs.'
According to the audit, community colleges currently rely on information from a variety of sources to help predict future employment needs. They include businesses, seven local Workforce Development Boards and the Oregon Employment Department's Workforce and Economic Research Division. The audit says the current process is not completely reliable and predicts an employment supply gap in several middle-skill occupations, including bookkeeping, accounting, preschool teachers (except special education), legal secretaries, medical transcriptionists and water and liquid waste treatment plant and system operators.
To fix this problem, the audit recommends that the Oregon Governor's Office 'coordinate with the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, the Oregon Workforce Investment Board, and/or the Oregon Education Investment Board to incorporate high-demand occupations into their planning, priority setting, budget allocations, and evaluation efforts.'
In response, the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development said it supports the recommendation but notes the potential employment shortages identified in the audit are relatively small, given the more than 1,100 career and technical education programs offered.