LVEDC Annual Report Highlights Lehigh Valley Talent Supply Initiative

By Colin McEvoy on June 28, 2021

LVEDC Director of Talent Supply Karianne Gelinas addressing the Education and Talent Supply Council in September 2018.

LVEDC Vice President of Business Development and Talent Supply Karianne Gelinas addressing the Education and Talent Supply Council in 2019.

The knowledge that has been gained through the talent supply initiative spearheaded by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has made the Lehigh Valley a national leader in understanding talent issues and building partnerships between employers and educators.

The efforts of that talent supply initiative were one of the areas of focus for the recently released LVEDC 2020 Annual Report, which highlights various projects, stories, and economic development trends from the past year in the Lehigh Valley

Two pages of the 36-page report are focused upon the LVEDC Education & Talent Supply Council, which has been working since 2015 to create and execute data-driven regional strategies that help the Lehigh Valley maintain a competitive workforce and talent supply.

“The continued economic success of the Lehigh Valley will depend on the ability of our employers to recruit, hire, and retain a workforce with the education and skills that they value,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Business Development and Talent Supply. “The council’s work will provide us with deep insights from employers, educational institutions, and other partners into the post-pandemic economy and talent needs in our region.”

The full LVEDC 2020 Annual Report can be viewed below or downloaded in PDF form here.

In the past year alone, the council hosted a virtual internship summit, created additional materials for companies seeking to establish internships, partnered with regional colleges and universities on an alumni survey, and published a new Lehigh Valley Hot Careers Guide.

Developed in collaboration with education and business partners from throughout the region, the second edition of the Lehigh Valley Hot Careers Guide covers essential information from major job sectors in the Lehigh Valley economy, highlighting the most in-demand careers coupled with wage and educational level requirements.

The 12-page guide provides a clear visual representation of career opportunities and provides a basis for meaningful career exploration based on individual interests. The occupations listed are among the most commonly sought by Lehigh Valley employers, such as advanced manufacturing, business services, health care, distribution and logistics, and more.

Additionally, LVEDC worked with the region’s colleges and universities to distribute surveys to its alumni and gauge their perceptions of the Lehigh Valley, as well as to explore their priorities related to careers and location preference. Nearly 4,000 surveyed alumni sent back responses.

“We chose to focus on alumni and understand alumni perceptions and priorities because we know from previous studies that people with the most familiarity with the region are most likely to stay, live, or work here,” Gelinas said. “The results of these surveys will directly affect our marketing efforts to continue to attract a strong workforce to the Lehigh Valley.”

LVEDC hosted a virtual Lehigh Valley Internship Summit for regional companies over two sessions last summer. It focused on how to start remote internships, recruit interns, create a virtual experience, and operate internships in the unusual circumstances of the pandemic and into the post-pandemic economy.

Another Lehigh Valley Internship Summit in partnership with Lehigh Valley colleges and universities will be held this fall, Gelinas said. It is currently in the planning stages, and additional details will be forthcoming soon.

Looking ahead, LVEDC and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley (WBLV) have hired the firm Camoin 310 to conduct an in-depth analysis of the region’s talent supply challenges and other insights that will ultimately lead to a revised talent supply strategic action plan.

Camoin 310, in partnership with the labor market analytics group EMSI, will update LVEDC’s & WBLV’s existing research, reassess employers’ talent needs, and validate the strategic approaches the region is using to address the most important talent supply issues.

As part of this effort, Camoin 310 will conduct surveys with employers across multiple industries in the Lehigh Valley. This will include a limited number of focus groups with regional companies, the education community, and other talent-impacting organizations to validate data.

“Lehigh Valley is a diverse economic region with excellent access to Philadelphia, New York City, and the East Coast,” said Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President at Camoin 310. “With strong institutions of higher education and supportive economic and workforce development organizations, Lehigh Valley has the resources to succeed.”

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