IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2001

Conference Initiative Addresses Skills Gap in the Workforce
Summit Unites Civic, Business and Political Leaders Throughout the Region

NEW ORLEANS - Today, Mayor Marc H. Morial, Vice President of United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) was joined by Mayor Beverly O'Neill of Long Beach, California, Chair of the USCM Jobs, Education and Workforce Committee, and Dr. Paul Harrington, Associate Director of the Center for Labor Market Research at Northeastern University, members of the private sector, educators, unions and workforce professionals as he hasted the "Mayors Skills Summit", a national initiative of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) calling attention to the widening skills gap. The regional summit, held at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans, brings best practices, recommended innovative solutions and priorities in workforce development to a national audience.


New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial, Vice President of United States Conference of Mayors, Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill, Chair of the Conference of Mayors Jobs, Education and Workforce Committee, and Dr. Paul Harrington, Associate Director of the Center for Labor Market Research at Northeastern University detail the components of the Mayors' Skills Summit at the opening press conference on March 20.
Click on photo or here to view video clip.
Mayor Morial said, "A glimpse of the global economy and the job market of the future shows us that we must ready ourselves for high-technology industries. By preparing our workforce for this shift, we ensure our city's success for years to come."

Mayor Morial and the Workforce Investment Board have been working on a strategy for the city to close the skills gap and feature education and technology as two driving forces for creating new job markets. Efforts addressing the need for better training include applying for competitive opportunities such as the $2.7 million federal grant awarded in October 2000 to train the New Orleans workforce for higher paying computer jobs, partnering with local universities to train workers for health care positions and a partnership with the Casey Foundation to form the New Orleans Jobs Initiative (NOJI), which finds innovative ways to employ low-skilled workers.

At the New Orleans Mayors Skills Summit, representatives from major regional corporations including Ultimate Technical Solutions, Metro Source L.L.C. and Gootee Construction led discussion focused on information technology career paths, challenges facing the labor supply and the labor market of the future.

At the Skills Summit, regional business and civic leaders developed specific goals and policy objectives on addressing the skills gap in the workforce. Recommendations from summits throughout the nation will form the foundation for a national report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, which will be presented to the mayors in Detroit at the 69th Annual Conference of Mayors.

Local government leaders across the nation overwhelmingly agree that while significant untapped economic opportunities exist in their communities, they simultaneously face serious shortages of qualified workers. According to the report, Examining Skill Shortages in America's Cities, released by the Conference of Mayors in June 2000, training the local workforce to stay competitive in a changing economy is the number one challenge for 90 percent of mayors surveyed. In addition, 86 percent of mayors reported that the technology sector of their local economy is the industry most seriously affected by the shortage of qualified workers.

Other Skills Summits are scheduled to take place this spring in Boston and Long Beach.

Mayor Morial will be installed as President of the USCM in June, 2001 at the Annual Summer Meeting in Detroit, Michigan. The USCM is the nation's largest and oldest bipartisan advocacy group for cities, representing over 1,100 mayors around the country.

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©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors