On the Issues
Creating and Sustaining Job Growth
As anyone will tell you, the key to a sustainable economic recovery is getting jobs back. While signs are pointing to improvement overall, Baltimore still lags behind in job growth. As delegate, I will push for solutions that will favor Maryland, but with a special focus on Baltimore.
1. Get ALL our students the resources they need.
We must improve technical education in high schools, further integrate our community colleges and take necessary steps to improve the job readiness of our young people. For example, though substantial measures have been taken to introduce computers into the classroom, computer access remains insufficient, particularly for lower middle class and lower income homes. Our city needs to bring these resources to the classrooms and neighborhoods that need them the most. I will propose and campaign for bond issues to purchase more computers for our classrooms, now. I will challenge our business community to donate more computers, technical assistance and mentoring time to our schools, high schools, and libraries, now. And I will hire a team of grant writers to go after every state, federal and private dollar that is available to help educate and train our young people, now.
2. Create regional skills training alliances.
Even though employers are willing to invest in training their employees, often times there is too little capital to support training in small and midsized businesses. To meet this new problem, many states and cities have established public/private joint ventures called Regional Skills Alliances (RSAs), which connect, employers, unions, schools, and other public agencies. RSAs identify the skills that are in demand and then work together to train employees. Together, they accomplish something no one sector or organization can do alone. Baltimore can help pioneer efforts to provide its workers with in-demand skills and keep them relevant in the 21st Century by organizing a Regional Skills Alliance with other cities on the Eastern Seaboard. By looking outside the state for assistance, we can better sustain Baltimore’s internal economic strength. Furthermore, alliances such as these could be used to retrain our many hospital workers who have been displaced through merger, closings and financial pressure from managed care. These skilled professionals should be given assistance in refining their skills so that they can work in other health care venues, such as outpatient care facilities.
3. Help place our returning soldiers back in the workforce.
Creating economic opportunities for our State, and Baltimore specifically, must also include targeting those who need those opportunities most. Many of our service men and women find it difficult to return to civilian workforce after their time abroad. As more of Baltimore’s young citizens leave to help fight in the global war on terror, we must think about the opportunities to which they will return. In this context, economic development not only benefits everyone, but also gives something back to those individuals who risk their lives to keep Baltimore and the rest of the country safe. Maryland needs to begin leveraging federal programs such as Helmets to Hardhats to bring returning soldiers into contact with construction and trade organizations.