Study: Economic gain requires brain power

Research depicts the Midwest's future job market as an area of mixed prospects.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Basic education and the ability to unlearn and relearn information are fundamental to the success of 21st century workers, especially in the Midwest, business researcher Patrick Rea said Tuesday at the Youngstown Club.
Rea, administrator for the Midwest Region of the Small Business Association, presented information from the study "21st Century Jobs and Entrepreneurship in the Midwest: A Study Capturing the Future of the Heartland's Economic Landscape."
According to Rea's research, the region's traditional industries will continue to shrink while the numbers of jobs in business and social services in Ohio will increase by 39.84 and 29.87 percent, respectively, from 2000 to 2010.
Midwest's challenges
But a lack of focus on the education system is leaving the work force inadequately trained for emerging jobs of the future.
Following national trends, the Midwest lacks the knowledge and some skill needed to match the future economic growth of its competitors.
While the location, transportation system and historic industrial sector of the Midwest strengthen the region's economic prospects, the area continues to face challenges in preparing a work force with sufficient skills and "intellectual property," according to the report.
In contrast to trends of the past 50 years, Ohio needs to retain individuals trained by its institutions of higher education to remain economically competitive, Rea said.
"Ohio cannot compete if they lose their geeks," he said.
The "geeks," he explained, are up-and-coming young workers with knowledge based skills, such as abstract reasoning, communication, collaboration and problem-solving. An increased focus on developing such knowledge before students graduate from high school will prepare them to move in and out of the higher education system as they choose.
Rea said the costs of not correctly preparing individuals become obvious as the students lose opportunities throughout their lives.
Reviving the economy
Because of these predictions, the city should recognize Youngstown State University as an "excellent partner" for educational and economic development and avoid falling "behind the power curve," Rea said.
Additionally, the city's renovation efforts might contribute to the needed knowledge surge. SBA District Director Gil Goldberg, who has worked with Youngstown's development plans, said the city's revisions will help to attract more brain power to the area.
In addition to education and knowledge, Rea said the globalization of companies and increased use of higher technology will play vital roles in the future job market.
Supplementing historic industrial sectors, such as Youngstown's steel industry, with more intellectual and technological companies also indicates prospects for economic growth, he said.
Such efforts to revive the Youngstown economy can be seen in the renovation of 1,500 acres of brownfield areas and implementation of millions of dollars of infrastructure, David Bozanich, city finance director said.

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