Report: Highly skilled workers lacking in region
Posted: February 5, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Highly skilled workers can be hard to come by locally.
According to a recent analysis by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics, the Winchester Metropolitan Statistical Area — which includes Frederick County and Hampshire County, W.Va. — has an overabundance of low-skilled workers while lacking individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree.
The Chmura report was developed by comparing educational attainment statistics of metropolitan areas to occupation categories for a given area.
Certain positions typically require a certain level of education, said Chmura economist Daniel Meges.
The Winchester metropolitan area has a 3.9 percent deficiency in highly skilled workers — those with at least a bachelor’s degree — ranking it 189th among 366 metro areas nationwide, the Chmura analysis states.
That means that positions typically filled by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree are likely to be taken by someone with less education or go unfilled, Meges said.
The lack of a highly educated workforce can be a barrier to bringing new business to the area, said Patrick Barker, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission (EDC).
“The availability of skilled labor traditionally ranks as one of the top priorities of corporations when they are looking for new locations,” he said.
Shortages of qualified workers — such as manufacturing technicians and nurses — have “long been an issue” for the city and county, Barker added.
The EDC is working with partners — such as Lord Fairfax Community College, Shenandoah University and current employers — on crafting a flexible and efficient career pathway and awareness campaign to address the shortage, Barker said.
The Winchester area also has an insufficient supply of medium-skilled workers — which the Chmura analysis classifies as those with an associate’s degree or some college — for 2.5 percent of positions.
And there are too many local residents with a high school education or lower for the number of available jobs, the report shows.
Conversely, areas such as Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, the New York City region and the San Francisco Bay area have too few low-skilled workers and too many highly skilled workers for the number of positions available — which leads to people in jobs below their level of qualification.
Four other Virginia metro areas ranked ahead of Winchester in the supply of highly skilled workers: Charlottesville, 64; Richmond, 74; Roanoke, 143; and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, 167.
Four Virginia localities came in behind Winchester: Harrisonburg, 193; Blacksburg, 242; Lynchburg, 252; and Danville, 307.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at email@example.com