The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) and UMass Boston's Center for Social Policy (CSP) released a report that explores the potential for career pathways in three local industries to help low-wage workers achieve economic mobility. The report found that those industries–construction, hospitality, and healthcare–are projected to exhibit higher-than-average job growth and offer opportunities for advancement to quality jobs with family-sustaining wages and benefits.
"While many low-wage workers find limited opportunities for advancement in the retail service sector, this report finds that additional opportunities exist in construction, hospitality, and healthcare industries–especially when they couple the ability to earn an income with job training and educational advancement," said Brandynn Holgate, PhD, the report's lead author and a researcher at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies Center for Social Policy.
McCormack Graduate School’s Dean David W. Cash applauds the report written by the school’s public policy alumna. “Representing our Center for Social Policy think tank, Dr. Brandynn Holgate tackles the important policy issue of workforce development–important to the economic growth of our community and its members. This report is just another example of why both policymakers and business leaders choose CSP as the go-to-center for social policy research and analysis.”
The report, "Career Pathways to Quality Jobs in Construction, Hospitality, and Healthcare," builds on a labor market study commissioned by the OWD that found that nearly half of Boston workers earn less than $35,000 a year. This new report explores the potential for career pathways to advance these workers – specifically those working front-line customer service positions, who are primarily women and people of color. Career pathways can promote advancement for these workers through job training, career counseling, mentoring, access to post-secondary education, English language instruction, and articulation agreements with colleges to offer credits for on-the-job learning.
Of the three industries examined in the report, the construction sector, though the smallest, showed the highest job growth rate and the highest average wages. From 2001 to 2014, wages rose by 18 percent to an annual average pay of nearly $95,000 per year.
The report found that the hospitality industry, which encompasses a range of low- and high-quality jobs, includes a hotel sector fruitful for employee advancement. Boston's hotel workers earn two to four times as much as workers in other hospitality sectors, aided in part by unionization. For example, entry-level hotel union workers earn an average hourly wage of $18, compared to $11 for their non-union counterparts.
Constituting over one-fifth of Boston's private sector employment, the healthcare industry offers the most job opportunities of those sectors studied in the report. Several healthcare employers, such as hospitals, provide their own workforce development programs to help employees advance their careers, and average annual pay in ambulatory care and hospitals was found to be on the rise.
"The analysis and recommendations in this report provide a meaningful framework to guide our efforts to provide upward mobility for workers in low-wage jobs," said Trinh Nguyen, director of the OWD, which commissioned the report. "Our goal is to help low-income residents access both employment opportunities and pathways to quality jobs that can positively impact their lives."