Thursday, March 31, 2011

OCTC and Jobs

In further reflection and commemoration of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Owensboro Community and Technical College, I offer the following analysis of jobs data before and after the establishment of the college in 1986.
  • According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Owensboro has experienced far higher rates of job growth since the opening of OCTC when compared to the 15 years prior to the existence of the college.  Job growth in the region from 1970 to 1985 was 17%, compared to 25% since the opening of OCTC in 1986.  
  • As far as manufacturing jobs are concerned the numbers are striking and significant.  In the 15 years before OCTC opened its doors, the region was bleeding manufacturing jobs at a rate of  hundreds of jobs a year.   A total of 1,500 jobs or 16% were lost from 1970 to 1985.  In the 15 years after the college opened, the region actually gained manufacturing jobs.  Manufacturing job retention rates in Owensboro from 1985 to 2008 far surpass the national level and the levels in many of Owensboro's peer regions.   Since 1985, Owensboro has retained 98% of manufacturing jobs.  This compares favorably to 85% nationally and 70% in our peer regions.   The importance of a highly skilled and technical workforce is a critical component of this retention and OCTC, particularly since the consolidation of the technical programs, has been a key part of the region's competitiveness in the retention of manufacturing jobs. 
  • Since the college opened Owensboro has seen a marked increase in professional service occupations that typically require some form of post secondary preparation, a 50% increase since 1985.  This compares to 30% increase from 1970 to 1985.  
I recognize that multiple factors play a part in the changes to the economy over the past 40 or 50 years.  But numbers like these, particularly in the area of manufacturing, demonstrate the importance of increased access to higher education and training.   The emphasis on technical skills provided by OCTC certainly have been a major driver of our regional competitiveness over the past several decades. 

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