State System ‘gap analysis’ study reveals Pennsylvania’s future workforce needs

State System ‘gap analysis’ study reveals Pennsylvania’s future workforce needs


Nearly 1 million skilled jobs will need to be filled across Pennsylvania through 2024, with the greatest need in the areas of healthcare, business and finance and computer and mathematical occupations. Significant workforce “gaps” could occur in many of those high-demand fields, meaning there won’t be enough educated workers to fill all of the available positions.

Shortages also could occur in “middle skill” jobs, those that generally require significant education and training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor’s degree—in occupation categories such as maintenance and repair workers, industrial machinery mechanics and computer-controlled machine tool operators.

Those are among the findings of a “gap analysis” study conducted by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education and unveiled, in part, at a meeting of the State System’s Board of Governors. Recognizing the economic diversity of the Commonwealth, the analysis was conducted by the State System both at the statewide and regional levels. The statewide findings were released on July 14; regional findings will be available this fall.

Answering the question, “Where are the workforce gaps in Pennsylvania?” the study will help policy makers and educators make key decisions about the types of programs that should be offered in order to best meet the needs of students and their future employers. The information provided by the study also could assist students as they make their college choices.

Calling it a “valuable resource” to higher education and both state and regional policy makers, State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan said the gap analysis “is only one component of a larger resource base that the State System and universities can use for program development, strategic planning, engagement with businesses and support for current and prospective students.”

The study is the third piece of a data-driven package designed to help the State System universities increase their impact on Pennsylvania’s economy, both individually and collectively.

The first component, prepared by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and released earlier this year, demonstrated the increasing importance of college graduates in the state’s workforce and highlighted the significant role the State System plays in supporting that workforce. The second included a series of reports that commented on the state of the workforce, including industry, jobs and socio-economic indicators for Pennsylvania and its regions.

The final piece provides an analysis of current and future workforce needs and to what extent higher education is meeting those needs. Specifically, the study was designed to project the outlook for skilled jobs, to identify which industries will drive future job growth, and to determine where “gaps” could exist between future job openings and the number of individuals educated to fill those jobs.

The gap analysis evaluated 445 skilled occupations in Pennsylvania to identify occupational categories where employer demand at the state level will exceed what universities are likely to provide through the year 2024. The overall job growth rate for the state during that time is projected at 9.5 percent. The projected growth of skilled jobs is higher than the overall growth rate and that for low-skilled jobs (8.1 percent). Skilled jobs in Pennsylvania are projected to grow by 10.9 percent while those in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and healthcare (STEM-H) are projected to grow by 15.6 percent.

Substantial gaps are projected for registered nurses, accountants and auditors, computer systems analysts, maintenance and repair workers, computer programmers, medical and clinical laboratory technologists, software developers, dental hygienists, sales representatives and market research analysts.

To view all of the reports, go to:

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with more than 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more who are enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs. Collectively, the 14 universities that comprise the State System offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. Nearly 520,000 State System university alumni live in Pennsylvania.

The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operate branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP), and Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and in Center City in Philadelphia.