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November 30, 2022

Study: North Central workforce shortage hurt by aging population

Photo | Timothy Doyle Downtown Fitchburg

The UMass Donahue Institute’s Economic and Public Policy Research group, has completed a study exploring solutions for a worker shortage in Northern Worcester County, according to a press release from the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. 

The study found that the region is experiencing slow population growth, an aging population leading to more retirements, and the continuing effects of the COVID pandemic. 

“Like many other areas of the Commonwealth, North Central is feeling the impacts of stagnant labor force engagement beyond the effects of pandemic shutdowns,” Roy Nascimento, president and CEO of North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, said in the press release.

Two groups are identified in the report as targets to expand the workforce: hidden workers and future workers. 

Hidden workers are left out of the workforce because of a restricted schedule, language barriers, and other barriers. The report recommends a variety of measures including improved transportation options, childcare services and flexible hours.

Future workers refers to people who are not yet in the workforce. The report urges the area’s leaders to develop strategies to retain and educate its existing young people as well as address housing costs, education, amenities, and infrastructure to attract new workers to the region.

Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner and Fitchburg State University are partnering with employers to build programs for workforce development, according to the report.

“It is our hope that by commissioning this study that all stakeholders will have a shared roadmap to overcome the challenges and set forth a bright future for employers and workers alike in the region,” said Nascimento.

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