For five years now, Team NEO has collected, analyzed and reported on the imbalance between supply and demand for labor in Northeast Ohio, and each of these annual reports has arrived at the same conclusion: the region needs more skilled workers.
“The reality is that five years later the results are the same,” said Jacob Duritsky, vice president of strategy and research at Team NEO. In short, the region continues to have a significant gap between the higher paying jobs in manufacturing, IT and healthcare, and the skilled workforce needed to fill these positions.
Factors such as an increasing demand for skilled workers, a declining regional population, an aging workforce and remote work situations are leading to the poaching of skilled employees by companies located outside of the state are causing these gaps to continue to widen.
According to the 2021 Team NEO Aligning Opportunities report, among the region’s three most in-demand industrial sectors – manufacturing, IT and healthcare – there is only one in which the demand for non-entry level positions is being met. by sufficiently qualified workers. Workers for health care jobs are almost in line with demand, but IT employers face a shortfall of around 13,000 skilled workers, and manufacturing has a skilled worker shortfall of over 20,000.
But it’s not all bad news, according to Duritsky, author of the Aligning Opportunities report.
When it comes to filling these employment gaps with skilled workers, residents of Northeast Ohio are increasingly educated, with the percentage of the region’s population with high school certificates. , associates and bachelor’s degrees rising to 37% in 2021 against 33% in 2017.
“This number is far from the 65% threshold that some data suggests the region will need by 2025 to close the workforce gap, but the numbers are pointing in the right direction,” Duritsky said.
The increase is a good sign, he said, and possibly a consequence of five years of quantitative data reporting that Team NEO has provided “to help connect the dots” to stakeholders, resulting in “strategic alignment around the specific set of data.”
“We are actually seeing a real alignment of our partners’ strategy around the report,” said Duritsky, highlighting strategies including those aimed at retaining immediate college graduates and, more recently, programs aimed at creating a pool of talent drawing from universities and high schools. 12 schools.
In response to the labor shortage, higher education institutions, including Lorain County Community College, are developing market-driven career courses aimed at guiding students towards careers and preparing them by creating a program involving sought-after skills.
“We’re making the process easier for employers,” LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger said during the panel discussion at Team NEO’s Aligning Opportunities event on Thursday, November 18 at the Music Box Supper Club in Cleveland.
During a discussion titled “Preparing Talent for In-Demand Jobs,” Ballinger said officials at Fortress Security Risk Management, a division of Cleveland-based data protection firm, MCPc, asked if the school would create a program to help create a talent pool based on skills required by the business.
From there, an internship was designed combining professional training with work experience at the MCPc office which ends with a job offer for interested and qualified students.
“The ‘earn and learn’ component is important because what we focus on (at LCCC) is connecting students to the real career field early on,” Ballinger said.
Even though Northeast Ohio continues to lag behind the state and the country in terms of graduate degrees, the region ranks second compared to metropolitan areas of its peers. for the rate of residents who have a university education, a data point that Duritsky sees as an opportunity.
There has been a decline in the number of in-demand jobs that require a bachelor’s degree, opening these positions to workers who face barriers to obtaining a four-year degree but are interested in other types of development. According to Duritsky, this is a change that occurs as companies make a realistic assessment of what is actually needed to complete certain jobs.
“We have to think differently as a community about how we train people, how we think about their skills,” Duritsky said.
Another reality is the differences not only in finding talent, but also in the way you think differently to attract and then retain employees, including what it means to keep workers satisfied.
“It is important to view the employee as a consumer, because employees now have more choices as to where they want to work and how they want to work,” said Yvonne Foster, human capital consultant at KPMG .
Corporate culture is “added value,” Foster said, and in an employee-centric labor market, companies need to assess whether they are providing an appropriate work-life balance and sustaining the “lifecycle.” employee life ”to create a clear path to advancement and promotion. It’s also important, she said, to “give employees a voice” by creating resource groups, like internal black, Hispanic and LGBTQ networks that foster a diverse and inclusive culture.
Ongoing demographic shifts in northeast Ohio mean the workforce gap is “much more than a math problem” and the region is not going to get out of the problem, Duritsky said .
“You can’t just sit back and say in the post-pandemic environment, I can’t find the talent,” he said. “You have to be thoughtful and strategic in how you recruit and how you think differently about what talent sourcing looks like in 2021.”