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LVEDC Council Focusing on Recommendations from Talent Supply Study

By Colin McEvoy on September 19, 2018

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council met to discuss the recently-completed talent supply study.

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council met to discuss the recently-completed talent supply study.

Earlier this summer, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) released the final report from its year-long study to assess the regional talent market and identify wide-ranging strategies to grow, recruit, develop, and retain talent in the Lehigh Valley.

Now, with the findings in hand, the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council is rolling up its sleeves and getting to work.

The council met on Sept. 19 at the Northampton Community College (NCC) to discuss the information revealed in the study, prioritize the recommendations for action, and form smaller groups to focus on specific strategic recommendations and move them forward.

“Frankly, we’re going to put you to work,” said Mark Erickson, President of NCC and council co-chair. “We’re going to shift our focus from data collection and report sharing to working collaboratively on the recommendations that have come out of this report.”

LVEDC and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley (WBLV) commissioned MDB Insight to conduct a regional study involving interviews, focus groups, and surveys with businesses from five targeted industry sectors and other stakeholders across the region.

That study has resulted in the development of a strategic action plan that will guide strategies to improve the Lehigh Valley talent market, create new approaches for developing workplace skills, and prepare students and adults to compete and succeed in high-demand careers.

“The challenge of growing and recruiting talent is not unique to the Lehigh Valley; all regions are dealing with this,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of LVEDC. “But bringing you all to the table and taking a deep dive to look for a solution puts us ahead of a lot other markets who are experiencing the same challenge.”

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

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

The study resulted in 36 strategic recommendations to improve the talent market, create approaches for developing workplace skills, and prepare job seekers to be successful in high-demand careers.

During the Sept. 19 meeting, members of the council broke into five different groups based on their specific areas of expertise, so they could identify which recommendations they are best positioned to address and form smaller working groups to begin addressing them.

The five groups included 1) K-12 education, 2) postsecondary education, 3) employers in collaboration with education/community, 4) private employers, and 5) workforce boards, consulting firms, staffing agencies, and nonprofit organizations, according to LVEDC Director of Talent Supply Karianne Gelinas.

“We want to make sure the right people and organizations are addressing the right recommendations so we can then support it and collaborate around it,” Gelinas said. “If that organization already has the experience to take the lead on those discussions, we want to harness that energy and help ensure those recommendations move forward.”

In its 20-page summary of the MDB Insight report, LVEDC identified some of the recommendations it considered the highest priorities, including:

  • Increased collaboration on job-readiness tools such as internships, apprenticeships, mentoring programs, and business tours
  • Creation of an accessible, easy-to-use Lehigh Valley database on jobs and training opportunities
  • Development of “employability skills” programs to improve job readiness and retention
  • Additional research into Lehigh Valley residents who leave the area for college or jobs, and how they may be motivated to return to the region
  • Creation of consistent brand messaging that can be used broadly by regional organizations to showcase the Lehigh Valley’s economic assets, opportunities, and quality of life

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council is a partnership of Lehigh Valley educational institutions, major employers, and economic development and workforce agencies focused on creating and executing regional strategies that help the Lehigh Valley maintain a workforce and talent supply.

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