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The Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board has released a five-year analysis of advertised jobs in the Pittsburgh area that indicates that most do not require education beyond a high school level.

The Supply Demand Analysis Part 1 report noted that as of July, the last month of the study, the 25 most frequently advertised jobs pay between $10 per hour and    $45 per hour.

These top-25 positions accounted for 15,500 ads in that one month alone and represented 30 percent of all job listings.

There were, for instance, advertisements for more than 1,500 nurses aids and orderly positions, paying an average of $12.50 to start, more than 900 customer service positions, paying an average of $15 per hour, and more than 800 retail sales supervisor positions, paying an average of  $19 per hour.

Though positions requiring some specialized education, such as scientific and technical sales or computer software engineer, were advertised around 300 and 400 hundred times respectively as paying between $35 and $40 per hour, the highest paying jobs could be had via work experience and on-the-job training; sales managers, advertised more than 400 times and paying more than $45 per hour, and marketing managers, advertised just under 300 times and paying $46 per hour.

In addition, the report notes that the skill sets required for most of these positions are in demand across several industry sectors:

“Sales occupations (representing the third largest group of advertized occupations) are being utilized across various industry sectors including Retail trade, Information, Wholesale trade, Accommodation and Food services, and Transportation and Warehousing.”

Of these jobs, 80 percent are in Allegheny County and 60 percent are in Pittsburgh. The report surmises that if all the advertised positions were filled, the region’s unemployment rate would fall to 4.7 percent.

It also concludes that with the majority of these jobs paying well above the recommended family-sustaining wage, filling these jobs would have a huge impact on the regional economy. And given that more than 6o percent of the jobs posted require more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree, there are clear implications for training, and how—and to whom—training funds are allocated.

Stefani Pashman, TRWIB CEO, given what the first phase of this analysis has shown, they need to get to corporations and find out what specifically they are looking for.

“Employers are telling us applicants don’t need the technical skills—they’ll train them,” she said. “But there are a great many who need the job readiness—the soft skills. They need to know how to show up on time, dress, shake hands. They need to know they shouldn’t be texting during an interview.”

She said high schools need to keep education relevant, to show kids that you need to be able to write a sentence, speak well and do some basic math if you want a job.

“We’ll be importing a pilot, summer internship program this year that concentrates on getting kids into the corporate and business setting,” said Pashman. “Right now most of the interns in Pittsburgh are going to nonprofits. The youth pipeline is a focus of ours. So there may be some tweaking with schools and community colleges on rethinking training focus, but this is just the first stage of our analysis.”

The next phase—the demand side analysis—should be finished in late 2011.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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