Over the past decade, policymakers and business leaders across New England have been concerned that the region’s slower population growth and loss of residents to other parts of the U.S. will lead to a shortage of skilled labor—particularly when the baby boom generation retires. Even with the current economic downturn, there is a recognized need to ensure that there is a sufficient pipeline of skilled workers to fill their region’s high-growth, high-demand jobs when the economy recovers—many of which are likely to require post-secondary education and training. This means not only having a sufficient number of skilled workers, but also a workforce with the right mix of skills to meet the diverse needs of the region’s economy.
This forum featured new research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s New England Public Policy Center that explores the potential mismatch between the supply of and demand for skilled labor in New England. The forum is one of the ongoing efforts of the Center, which the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston established in 2005 to provide policy makers and the public with unbiased information on key policy issues. It intends to provide policy makers, policy practitioners, and regional thought leaders who are concerned about region’s workforce with a deeper understanding of the relevant issues and possible solutions.
The author and keynote speaker—Alicia Sasser Modestino, Senior Economist at the Policy Center—described the magnitude of the potential mismatch, identified particular industries and occupations where skilled labor is in high demand, and projected labor supply and demand conditions over the next two decades. She also discussed several policy solutions designed to address labor shortages in the region, including where future investments in education and training may be warranted.
Registration and continental breakfast
Welcoming and introductions
Presentation of new NEPPC Research Report:
Alicia Sasser Modestino
Moderated responses from a panel of national and regional experts
Moderated questions from the audience
Conny Doty, Director, Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Services, City of Boston (Bio)
Mary Fifield, President, Bunker Hill Community College (Bio)
Harry Holzer, Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University (Bio)
Joanne Pokaski, Director of Workforce Development, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Bio)
Alicia Sasser Modestino, Senior Economist, New England Public Policy Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (Bio)
Moderator, Prabal Chakrabarti, Assistant Vice-President and Director of Community Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (Bio)
Conny Doty, Director, Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Services, City of Boston
Conny Doty is the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Services (JCS) in Boston. JCS manages over $25 million in Federal, State and local funds to invest in upgrading the skills and education of Boston residents to enhance their ability to access family sustaining wage jobs and continue their education and to support the City’s employers’ needs for high quality workers. Ms. Doty is a former President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Workforce Development Council and has served as an Executive Board member since 1996. She is a Trustee of Boston’s Neighborhood Jobs Trust and a member of the State’s Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund Advisory Board.
A graduate of the Braintree public schools, Ms. Doty is an honors graduate of Boston College, with a major in Social Sciences. She was a participant in the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program for Management Development in 1994.
Mary Fifield, President, Bunker Hill Community College
Mary Fifield is the President of Bunker Hill Community College. She previously served as President of Harrisburg Area Community College. She currently serves on the Boston Private Industry Council’s Workforce Investment Board and is a member of the President’s Circle of the National Council for Research on Women. Ms. Fifield is a former member of the Board and Executive Committee of the American Association of Community Colleges and has served by appointment of the Governor on the Workforce Investment Board for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She is the former Vice President of the Massachusetts Community College Trustees Association. She has co-authored several publications and articles about community colleges, global workforce needs, and the value of diversity.
Dr. Fifield holds a B.A. from Clarke College, an M.F.A. from Pratt Institute, and a Ph.D. from St. Louis University.
Harry Holzer, Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University
Harry Holzer is a Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University and a Visiting Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington DC. He is a former Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Labor and a former Professor of Economics at Michigan State University. Dr. Holzer's research has focused primarily on the labor market problems of low-wage workers and other disadvantaged groups. Dr. Holzer is a Senior Affiliate of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, a Research Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a National Fellow of the Program on Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University, and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Dr. Holzer received his A.B. from Harvard in 1978 and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard in 1983.
Joanne Pokaski, Director of Workforce Development, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Joanne Pokaski is the Director of Workforce Development at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). Prior to BIDMC, Joanne served as Director of Boston Career Link, a one-stop career center in Roxbury. Before that, Ms. Pokaski oversaw government and community relations and strategic planning for Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries and worked as a Senior Research Associate/ Economist for the Boston Redevelopment Authority. She is a member of the Boston Private Industry Council’s (PIC's) Workforce Development Committee and chairs the PIC's Healthcare Careers Consortium.
Ms. Pokaski holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard College and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Alicia Sasser Modestino, Senior Economist, New England Public Policy Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Alicia Sasser Modestino is a Senior Economist in the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Prior to joining the Bank, she worked as an economist in the private sector and taught economics at Mount Holyoke College.
Her current research focuses on the labor force, migration, housing affordability, and expansions in health insurance coverage. Dr. Modestino’s work has appeared in journals such as Regional Science & Urban Economics, Journal of Human Resources, and Health Affairs and has been presented at annual meetings of the American Economic Association, the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management, and the National Tax Association.
Dr. Modestino earned both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University where she also served as a doctoral fellow in the Inequality and Social Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government.
Prabal Chakrabarti, Assistant Vice-President and Director of Community Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Prabal Chakrabarti is Assistant Vice-President and Director of Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston where he leads a team of research and outreach professionals who work to foster economic growth and access to capital for lower income communities.
Previously, Mr. Chakrabarti worked at the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, where he led a major research effort under Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter to measure economic trends in America’s inner cities. He also served in Economic Policy at the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton Administration and was a manager at Ernst & Young.
Mr. Chakrabarti holds graduate degrees from MIT and Oxford University and a B.S. from the University of Illinois.