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 Feature Industry Articles 
Sunday, July 28 2019
Workforce Development: Finding Talent in Today's Hyper-Competitive Labor Shortage

By Chris Engle, Vice President, Avalanche Consulting

This article discusses the realities and response to the labor environment seen across the U.S. today. Companies can sharpen their toolkit in evaluating labor markets and finding a current and future workforce. Educators can better understand the needs of companies, particularly in hard-to-fill positions requiring technical or specialized skills. Economic and workforce developers can deploy new attention to the development of talent from within their communities in addition to attracting workers. Collectively, we can all learn how a high-performing economy must be continually supplied with a labor force that is dynamic, responsive, and innovative despite the challenges brought on by technology, demographic change, and uncertainty.

First, let’s take a closer look at today’s labor environment. We have written several articles in recent years about the declining unemployment rate and its impact on industries. Today’s unemployment rate now stands at 3.6 percent, the lowest registered rate in 50 years. We now consistently hear across every part of the country and economy, from highly skilled industries to entry level hospitality, that employers can’t find the workers they need. The low unemployment rate is a function of labor participation, i.e. the number of people seeking work.

Posted by: AT 11:11 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, July 24 2018
The Next Recruiting Challenge - Filling the Workforce Gap by Filling Workforce Development Programs

By Kate McEnroe, President of Kate McEnroe Consulting

We are living in a time when frustrated employers facing shortages of qualified job applicants co-exist with both young and experienced workers experiencing persistent challenges in finding opportunities to create a sustainable career. In response, an impressive amount of work is being done across the country to boost the short and long-term workforce pipeline at all levels.

A lot of progress has been made connecting educational institutions and workforce agencies to existing and new businesses so that training program are well aligned to job opportunities. The job is never really done, and funding is always a challenge, but in many cases the questions of what needs to be done has been answered, at least in theory.  

Posted by: AT 01:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, July 25 2017
Workforce Development - Taking a Holistic Approach to Grow Local and Regional Economies

By Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President, Camoin Associates 

The Challenge
What keeps you up at night? When I ask that to business leaders in the context of economic and business growth, the answer is often “finding and retaining skilled and talented workers.” Within my work as an economic development consultant I have interviewed thousands of business leaders across multiple settings: rural to urban, small to large, tourism to high tech, and workforce issues consistently rank at the top of the list. Is this surprising? While it is true that there is an ample number of people searching for a better job, or even a job in general, a serious talent and skills gap exists, making it challenging for employers to find the right individual for a specific position. If this skills gap is not rectified by economic development, workforce, and educational partners, it will stifle economic growth and prosperity at all levels.

What is causing this skills gap and related inability for businesses to find workers with the appropriate skills and training? While there is not one easy answer, several factors, which are highlighted below, are commonly identified based on research, analysis, and on-the-ground reporting.

Posted by: AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 25 2016
Workforce Today: Locate, Cultivate, and Communicate to Find Your Future Workforce

By John Rees and Chris Engle of Avalanche Consulting

The labor market is tighter than it has been in years. Unemployment is less than five percent. The difficulty of securing talent is a growing concern for companies and communities alike. In a recent survey by Avalanche Consulting, nearly 90 percent of economic developers reported that finding a skilled workforce has become ever-more important to expanding firms during the past year. No company can afford to invest millions of dollars in a new or expanded facility only to find its operations hampered by a lack of available labor. 

In an economy that increasingly rewards firms that can most effectively acquire and manage human capital, how can companies looking to expand or relocate their operations identify communities rich in talent? What actions can employers take to ensure they have access to a sustained pipeline of trained workers? What resources are available to make workforce training more cost-effective? How do companies increase awareness of opportunities available within their industry?

Posted by: AT 09:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, July 28 2015
Workforce Development: An Essential Collaboration for Economic Growth

Economic developers from across the country hear the same chorus again and again from their major employers: “We are hiring and we can’t find the people we need!” Indeed, the lack of sufficient quantities of skilled workers is a real brake on economic growth that appears likely to worsen as skilled baby-boomers begin to retire in greater numbers. This workforce gap is particularly puzzling when juxtaposed with the number of unemployed and under-employed people seeking better wages.

In part, to deal with this human and economic problem, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law in 2014. WIOA is the replacement to the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and is meant to better “match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.”  We believe that WIOA offers a real platform to allow economic developers to engage with their local Workforce Investment Boards in a new and more comprehensive way. Below we describe two case studies where just such a collaboration has yielded fruit in the form of a more integrated economic developer-workforce development system. We also provide recommendations for others wishing to build this economic-workforce bridge in their own communities.

Posted by: AT 02:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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