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LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council Rolls Up Its Sleeves

By George Lewis on May 6, 2019

A September 2018 meeting of the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council.

A September 2018 meeting of the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council.

The time for talk and study has given way to time for work on Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation‘s (LVEDC) Education and Talent Supply Council.

About 40 members attending a May 3 council meeting at Northampton Community College’s Fowler Center in Bethlehem heard reports from five working groups addressing major findings of a detailed research project completed last summer.

“We’re collectively doing what we need to do to fill in gaps and match talent supply and demand,” said Dr. Mark Erickson, President of Northampton Community College and Education and Talent Supply Council co-chairman.

After release of the final report from the 2018 talent supply study, the council established working groups to develop strategies for addressing and retaining talent, exposing students to career path options, improving employability skills, enhancing internship opportunities, and exploring further talent market research needs.

Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research, credited the working groups for their accomplishments. She recognized the strength and the growth of the local coalition, and the great support from employers, educators, community-based organizations, and local governments.

The Attracting and Retaining Talent group is creating opportunities for people to find community and connect with one another. Building connections leads to deepening commitments that encourage talent to stay. The group seeks to amplify, not duplicate, efforts of existing programs that create connections.

The Career Paths group developing an online resource that streamlines the process for providing work-based learning experiences to K-12 students, so they can make more informed career decisions. This resource, based on best-practice models from Erie and Berks counties, will be rolled out in the summer of 2019.

The Employability Skills group is developing and implementing a variety of approaches designed to prepare students to enter the work force with character traits that employers expect, such as reliability, teamwork, and interpersonal relationships.

The Internships group is establishing a one-stop shop for employers seeking interns, especially mid-size and smaller employers that don’t have large personnel departments. An internship tool kit for employers is in the works, and an internship summit is planned for the summer.

The Talent Research group is following up on new questions raised by the talent study findings. It is preparing a survey to gather knowledge about Lehigh Valley students who leave the area for college, and a survey of alumni from 11 local colleges and universities to gauge their perceptions of the region.

In addition to the working group reports, the council heard an update on the new “Made Possible in Lehigh Valley” marketing campaign from LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham.

“As we talk with employers, the number one factor, the number two factor, and probably the number 3 factor affecting them is the ability to recruit and retain good people,” Cunningham said. “It’s important that the Lehigh Valley win the battle for talent. Economic development organizations today need to recruit people as much as companies.”

He explained that the “Made Possible” campaign is not solely a program of LVEDC, but a consortium that will necessitate involvement from the entire community.

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