Why Maryland? Because it’s going to take a bunch of experiments and a bunch of small victories to move the needle on workforce challenges, and they have some good examples in the pipeline.
First, almost a year ago former governor Hogan dropped the college degree requirement for many state jobs. His lead has since been followed by other governors, most recently Governor Shapiro in Pennsylvania, and one would hope is also encouraging private sector employers to review their job descriptions. The value of education is not in question here – what is under discussion is a better match between job requirements and what the best way to acquire those skills and them demonstrate them to an employer may be.
Then, again under governor Hogan, $15 million was set aside to offer incentives to infrastructure companies to provide their workers with direct incentives up to $10,000 per person, usable as signing bonuses, retention bonuses, or for housing, childcare, and training support.
Most recently, a state legislator has introduced a bill calling for incentives to be offered in a pilot program to employers who reduce the workweek from 5 days to 4, from 40 hours to 32, without a reduction in pay. The proposal builds on a growing body of evidence from around the world that appears to demonstrate increases in productivity, morale, retention, and revenue for the employers and is highly coveted by the workforce.
Our workforce challenges will not resolve themselves, and will not be fully resolved by any silver bullet like AI or other forms of automation alone. These experiments cost money, but so does turnover and lost revenue due to short staffing. These experiements don’t guarantee success, but you know how it goes – you can’t succeed if you don’t try.