Updated: Jan 22, 2020
How do we build a skilled workforce to match our economic development initiatives and meet future demand?
A skilled and well-paid workforce isn’t the product of any single rockstar apprenticeship program or grant, but of an ecosystem that coordinates schools, businesses, and economic development professionals as early as possible. Economic development practitioners need to be working side-by-side with city governments in the early master planning phase of real estate and business initiatives so that pipelines can be built and activated to meet workforce needs.
We heard examples from around the country of experts bringing their middle and high school administrators and business owners together to design curricula that directly connect students to skilled jobs in their regions after they graduate. From Delta to Georgia Tech to the BeltLine, Atlanta anchor institutions and prominent companies are leading the charge. Our team heard a wide range of needs from around the country: some areas are experiencing the lowest unemployment rates in decades, but a mismatch in skilled vs. unskilled workforce; other areas have been decimated by the opioid crisis and seek to connect broader services; others are at the early stages of building workforce development partnerships and pipelines.
We left asking: Are we making sure that transportation planners are involved to physically connect workforces to their place of work? Are we speaking with agencies that serve differently abled populations to best match them to long-term jobs? Is your Chamber of Commerce routinely engaging business owners around their workforce needs and bringing that information to the table? Partnership and planning emerged as critical components to building a workforce that is suited for success in your economy - are you making sure that everyone is at the table?