For example, he pointed to the fledgling EARN Maryland program — Employment Advancement Right Now — because it is intended to get industries dealing with skills gaps to collectively decide how to fix them. Industry groups can apply for grants in October to do such planning work and later qualify for workforce-training funding .
Howie said he's certain the skills gap is part of the problem because Maryland has 86,000 job openings on its online workforce exchange, enough to fill a significant chunk of the demand for work. And he doesn't think that accounts for all the positions employers need to fill.
Just as some residents have stopped searching because they've had no luck, he said, some businesses have told him they stopped posting jobs "because they've been recruiting for a while and have given up for the time being."
An M&T Bank survey of businesses this summer found more optimism than pessimism in the bank's Mid-Atlantic region — largely Maryland, with a bit of Washington and Virginia. Thirty-four percent of companies surveyed expect to hire by the end of the year, compared with 7 percent expecting to cut.
The Lieber Institute for Brain Development is among those expanding. It's preparing to take over the rest of its floor in a building on the East Baltimore biotech park campus.
The institute, launched in 2010 to focus on clinical advances for developmental brain disorders such as schizophrenia, has 80 employees and plans to add about a dozen in the next few months.
It's not that the organization is bucking the trend of tightening purse strings for federal research grants, said Jean DuBose, a Lieber Institute spokeswoman. In addition to seeking such funding, it's forged partnerships with companies and receives philanthropic support from its founders.
"We are able to close the gap," she said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this article.