Thursday, June 23, 2016

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Labor expert says education is key to self-employment success

Harrington: "We need to get kids more tied to the job market ..."

NEW PALTZ – The success of the self-employed workforce in the Hudson Valley can be correlated to the educational level of those involved. That was a finding of Dr. Paul Harrington, director of the Center for Labor Market and Policy at Drexel University. He presented his findings on the state of entrepreneurism in the Hudson Valley to a conference at SUNY New Paltz. The session was held by the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation.

Harrington made one universal observation he believed summed up the self-employment workforce within the Hudson Valley; that is, the rate of growth in the Hudson Valley is not being matched with increased workforce participation. He added that as a generalization of the data, people under the age of 50 are not increasing their participation in the workforce.

Harrington concluded that educational level is a factor in the success rate of industries.

“That decline is very heavily concentrated in industries that perform poorly, and the goods producing side of the economy, that where we’ve done better, especially in New York in self-employment, is in professional, scientific and technical services,” Harrington said.  “These are organizations that self-employed people who are engaged in business consulting, finance, accounting, engaged in health research, engineering design, architectural design; so, they’re very up-end, high levels of educational attainment.”

However, when it comes to educational attainment, the Hudson Valley is one of the most educated regions around, according to Harrington; so, he said the major issue to tackle now within the region will be increasing that workforce participation, starting with the young people at the high school level.

“I think that it’s been a relatively prosperous area over the last few years,” Harrington said.  “The national economy, now, has slowed down a lot, but I think in the longer pull the payoff, the work experience and educational attainment are pretty high. I think the single most important thing we could do in the Hudson Valley to facilitate a long-term growth strategy is trying to get teens, and young adults, employed at a higher rate than we have now. We have very, very low employment rates for kids and that needs to change. We need to get kids more tied to the job market than they are now.”

Dr. Harrington said he hopes the members of the business community, who attended the event, will now be inspired to get more involved in the schools, starting with local high school involvement being their first priority.


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