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LVEDC Council Forms Work Groups to Address Lehigh Valley Talent Study

By Colin McEvoy on January 18, 2019

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

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council discussing the talent supply study.

A Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) council is moving forward on its efforts to execute on the recommendations and strategies outlined in a year-long regional talent market study.

For the last several months, the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council has been reviewing and discussing the information presented in the study, which sought to identify wide-ranging strategies to grow, recruit, develop, and retain talent in the Lehigh Valley.

“The council has prioritized the study’s recommendations and established smaller goal-focused work groups that will concentrate on specific types of strategies and recommendations and advance ideas for execution,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research.

The five work groups and their areas of concentration include:

  • Employability skills
  • Career pathways
  • Internships, co-ops, apprenticeships, and mentorships
  • Attracting, recruiting, and retaining the next generation of talent
  • LVEDC-led talent and research initiatives

These groups will set priorities and timelines to meet goals, and will report progress and accomplishments to the larger council. Gelinas said the work groups have the authority to advance ideas, with the council functioning as a steering committee for all of them.

All five groups consist exclusively of members of the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council, 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.

“All regions across the country are grappling with the challenge of growing and recruiting talent,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of LVEDC. “But bringing these professionals and experts 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.”

Gelinas said employers within the Lehigh Valley are still being sought for inclusion in these work groups if they fall within one of the following five target sectors: healthcare; transportation, warehousing, & logistics; life science research & manufacturing; high-value business services, and manufacturing.

If you represent an employer from one of these target sectors and wish to be considered, contact Gelinas at (610) 266-2236 or [email protected].

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 36 strategic recommendations 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.

Each work group will take a different approach depending on its areas of focus, Gelinas said. For example, the employability skills group will begin with data collection and research, reviewing how schools across the Lehigh Valley build these skills into their curriculums, and whether these approaches are uniform across all institutions.

By contrast, the working group focused on internships will be focusing more specifically on creating structures for these programs, building employer/education connections, and working with colleges to create common language and requirements for their offerings.

The work group focusing on attracting, recruiting, and retaining the next generation of talent has a stronger focus on culture building, Gelinas said, encouraging employers to offer flexible workplaces, mentorships, cross-generational and diversity training, and other cultural offerings that will attract talent seeking a place to live, work, and play.

LVEDC’s ongoing talent supply initiative is one of the key focuses of the organization’s newly announced Strategic Initiatives and Research work group, which is being led by Gelinas. It is responsible for research and analysis, outreach to businesses and local governments, and directing initiatives to support retention and growth of regional companies.

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