LAS VEGAS -- According to economists at the Brookings Institute, one of the reasons the Las Vegas economy is taking so long to recover is the valley's undereducated workforce.
A recent study by the institute found that 37 percent of job openings in Las Vegas required at least a bachelor's degree, but only 21 percent of adults in the valley hold such a degree. Experts at the institute said the education gap is one of the biggest issues holding back the Las Vegas economy.
Las Vegas was once known to have a job market where a person could go right to work after graduating high school and start parking cars as a valet or waiting tables at a restaurant and then work their way up the corporate ladder.
Many of these workers were known to make a good living – but that was the Las Vegas of before.
Andre Filosi is an example of the classic Las Vegas success story.
He started out as a slot floor worker 27 years ago with nothing more than a high school education.
Today, he's the assistant general manager of the Orleans Casino, on Tropicana Avenue and Decatur Boulevard.
"Twenty some years ago, the skills that got you noticed and got you advanced was the ability to relate with customers and relate with your coworkers," Filosi said. "(And) to be able to handle difficult situations."
Succeeding in Las Vegas in 2012 is a different game, he said.
"It seems to have shifted," he said. "There is a push from some other organizations to go after MBA type folks that come in at higher levels, that don't have that base of operations experience."
As more large, publically-traded companies entered the gaming business, fewer casinos were willing to take a gamble on a worker without a degree. For many unemployed workers, the corporatization of Las Vegas has made it difficult to find work.
Unemployed workers told 8 News NOW that they had grown up believing that a high school diploma was their ticket to a decent job.
"Your parents always tell you, ‘Make sure and get that diploma,' which is true and good, but it's not the same anymore," jobless worker Charles Bridges said.
The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation is working with schools to prepare the next wave of students for the workforce and convince them that a high school diploma isn't enough anymore.
"We are forming partnerships with community colleges and four year universities to develop programs where the education is diversified," said Frank Woodback, director of the state's employment department. "(We're) also figuring out where those career paths are."
In the meantime, Bridges, who is raising three children, said he will continue his job hunt and hope for the best.
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