Building a Skilled Workforce Is More Critical Than Any Tax Credit or Abatement Program
No business in any industry can succeed without the availability of a quality workforce. The availability of a reliable, high quality workforce used to be a given for many companies when deciding whether to grow and where to expand. Those days are gone.
Just take a look at some staggering numbers, and consider how these shortages may affect the growth of a company or the region:
- 600,000-that is the total number of jobs in the manufacturing sector waiting for skilled workers. Manufacturing jobs are coming back to the United States, but many are concerned the world’s global manufacturing leader is not ready to fill all the positions.
- 50%- that is the number of the energy industry’s pool of 5 million skilled workers that will retire within a decade. At the same time, a shale energy jobs explosion is expanding well beyond the Texas-Oklahoma-Louisiana triangle into North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. This boom will create thousands of energy jobs over the next decade exactly when half the current workers are retiring.
- 56%- that is the percentage of IT executives who said there largest barrier to success is a lack of staff to implement the mission of the company. Much like energy, information technology is a major aspect of the American economy and provides the basis for global success in many U.S. markets. Regions without a strong base of skilled information technology workers simply won’t be able to compete with global tech regions.
- 500,000 and 125,000- that is the shortage of nurses and doctors, respectively, expected by 2020 in what is the largest sector of most regional economies, health care. Five of Ohio’s largest employers are now hospitals and only three in the top 20 are manufacturers. Regions without a skilled workforce for the healthcare industry will struggle to grow this important sector of their economy and retain other employers whose employees need quality healthcare.
The retirement of the Baby Boom generation, low performance of America’s schools, a welfare system not creating workers and a lack of alignment between industry and higher education is creating widespread qualified workforce shortages even in times of high-unemployment.
Companies looking to grow and expand have no choice but to create a workforce strategy centered on locating in markets with a strong base of workers, an industry cluster aligned with the company’s focus, strong connections between regional educational institutions, a friendliness to immigrant workers and industry and local and state programs geared toward creating a strong workforce. First, demographic data need to be identified that will indicate which regions have a base of workers available for specific industries. Second, companies are more likely to find the long term pool of workers they need by locating in a region with their industry cluster. Another long term workforce approach is the alignment of higher education, community colleges and universities, with industry to produce the workers needed. In addition, for many companies in the tech sector, regions and states friendly to immigrant workers are more likely to have a strong base of highly educated, global workers available. Finally, even if a region is “worker-rich,” these companies need to negotiate tax incentives that include grants for workforce training.
A workforce development strategy is just as important as identifying a supply chain, links to customers, highway access and tax friendly policies when determine where to grow a company.