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‘Talent Wars’: New National Report Offers Insights into Talent Shifts

By Nicole Radzievich Mertz on October 18, 2021

A new DCI study offers insights in to why talent shifted during the pandemic and what is influencing their perceptions about the places they are moving.

 

 

 

Recruiting the right talent and updating workforce skills remains critical to business success and a core to the mission of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) to retain, grow and attract more businesses.

The LVEDC’s award-winning talent supply initiative executes strategies that have strengthened the talent pipeline for the long-term in important employment sectors such as health care, logistics, life sciences, high-value business services and manufacturing.

Circumstances around talent attraction shifted rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment initially spiked. Employers who could shifted to remote work, freeing up some employees to move anywhere. Now, the so-called “Great Resignation” has entered into the American lexicon as companies grapple with labor shortages.

Shedding some light on these dynamic conditions is the “Talent Wars” report released in October by Development Counsellors International (DCI), which specializes in place marketing. DCI conducted a talent perception study for LVEDC in 2018 that helped establish the direction for the Made Possible in Lehigh Valley campaign. The “Talent Wars” report features a national talent survey of 1,000 people, between the ages 21-65, who moved at least 100 miles from where they were living at the beginning of the pandemic.

Here are a few takeaways from the report that LVEDC is analyzing:

‘Talent Opportunity is Ripe’

Moravian College students learn about anatomy. The Lehigh Valley’s 11 colleges and universities produce a strong pipeline of talent.

What the Report Says

A year and a half into the pandemic, migration patterns haven’t settled yet.

Two-thirds of those who moved say they’re not moving back to their previous residence, leaving open the possibility that up to a third of the moves may not be permanent. In addition, 54% of the respondents who moved say they plan on moving again within the next 12 to 18 months, according to DCI.

“The takeaway for … talent attraction is that the talent opportunity is ripe,” the report says.

Lehigh Valley Insights

The profile of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania’s fastest growing region for young adults, was raised during the pandemic as remote workers from nearby urban centers considered less congested places to live.

The commercial real estate services firm CBRE found the number of moves into the Lehigh Valley from the New York metro region, about 90 miles away, increased by 13.7% last year. In fact, Realtor.com ranked Bethlehem’s 18018 zip code as among America’s hottest zip codes in 2021. Liveability.com included Bethlehem among its top 100 places to live in the United States.

 Love Where You Live

Musikfest patrons enjoy a concert at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. Musikfest, billed as the largest free music festival in America, is one of many cultural and entertainment amenities in the Lehigh Valley.

What the Report Says

Among the top triggers for relocation are a better quality of life (38%), proximity to family (30%), larger living space (27%) and lower cost of living (23%), according to DCI. Note that job relocation and remote work ranked slightly lower at 21% each.

“This is not to say quality of life has surpass career-related factors and job opportunities when deciding on or comparing locations to move to but rather that it is rising in importance since the onset of the pandemic,” the report says

Lehigh Valley Insights

Lehigh Valley ranks very well when it comes to quality of life issues. Ownerly, which produces real estate analytics, ranked the Lehigh Valley among the most desirable locations in the country for remote work because of its property values, green space, and low crime rate.

The Lehigh Valley also is more affordable than more populous regions within 100 miles. Brooklyn is 64% more expensive and Newark 17%, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. Apartment rent alone is savings. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $3,552 in Brooklyn, $1,877 in Newark and $1,433 in the Lehigh Valley.

Social Media is King

Social media is a key driver in shaping perceptions about a place.

What the Report Says

The DCI report shows that 52% of the respondents said social media influenced their perceptions of the place and another 51% said internet research. Facebook (63%), YouTube (55%), and Instagram (52%) are the top social media channels the respondents turned to after learning about new employment opportunities and places to work.

Lehigh Valley Insights

LVEDC has been building out its presence on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for years. The nonprofit’s presence on YouTube grew this year as the LVEDC debuted in 2020 its first executive interview series, which featured new executives from prominent companies ranging from PPL to B. Braun Medical. The second season of the series is being released.

With its community partners, LVEDC also maintains a quality of life presence with its Made Possible in Lehigh Valley campaign. It’s a powerful story-telling platform that enables supporters of the initiative to market the Lehigh Valley in one voice and message whether it is to attract visitors, students, workers, or major employers. Its wide range of content includes inspiring stories of residents, signature festivals and recreation spots.

 

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