Saturday, March 26, 2011

Workforce Crunch Looms

Governor John Kasich is quoted in The Dispatch this past week saying there are 80,000 "job vacancies" in Ohio.

The state's job seeker website,, has over 60,000 open jobs advertised.  In fact, that same website proclaims more than 1,000 open job postings within 20 miles of Newark.

Jefferson County, Ohio's economic development guy was just quoted in a Steubenville Herald Star article as saying that, despite an unemployment rate over 12%, "several employers in the county are commenting on the difficulty of finding skilled workers for jobs."

What's going on here?

Evidence is building.

Despite higher-than-anyone-wants unemployment rates, Ohio is experiencing the early throws of a workforce crunch.  Despite a still-mending economy, we are on the edge of a workforce development challenge of immense proportions.

The Class of '65 turns 65 next year.  I've cited this stat before in this column, but it bears repeating.  An Ohio Dept. of Development stat shows that the number of Ohioans who will turn 65 in 2012 will average 114 a day.  That's 500% more than the 2010 average of 19 a day.

Suffice to say there are not that many workforce-entering age birthdays being celebrated on average at that same rate.  Thus, the net loss to the workforce pool is predictably large.  That's a workforce crunch.

Ohio is not alone in this workforce crunch.  This demographic fact is already starting to have an impact all over the country.

Employers will demand an answer and the places that provide the best answers will be the winners in economic development.

Licking County's answer is forming, but our mission is clear:  no job goes unfilled.

The C-TEC Manufacturing Certification is part of the answer.  C-TEC will soon graduate a class of people ready to fill manufacturer's workforce needs with a manufacturing certification in hand to prove their readiness.

The COTC new W-DIC center is another part of the answer.  COTC promises company's can build their own workforce with a tailored curriculum and, even, college credit-worthy training.

Workenomics, the little-known wing of the Chamber that sees the collaboration of community economic development and workforce development efforts, is working on a campaign to expand the pool of available workers for our employers to tap and improving workforce data available for site selectors.  Stay tuned on that.

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