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Workforce Development and Stability

Workforce development is the branch of economic development focused on human capital. Any holistic regional economic development plan will include workforce development as a key component because availability of talented workers is among the top factors driving any corporate expansion or relocation decision.

Workforce development has been approached in two ways: place-based strategies that attempt to address worker skills region-wide and sector-based strategies that focus on meeting skill needs in a specific industry. Many comprehensive workforce development programs attempt to combine elements of both approaches.

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Chamber Workforce Development Initiatives

  • The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (N.C.) and the Economic Development Coalition partner annually with numerous workforce and industry allies to promote career opportunities in advanced manufacturing, technology, health care, tourism and other growth industries in Western North Carolina. Residents, students, graduates and former residents are encouraged to attend this one-stop opportunity to meet directly with representatives from companies that will be hiring in 2017 or organizations promoting awareness to potential future employees. Visit the Job Fair event page for more info.
  • The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce (Ky.) formed the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Partnership to help regional employers recruit and train qualified applicants, encourage advancement on a career pathway, and retain employees. Its vision is to build a pipeline of skilled workers by cultivating collaboration among key partners and addressing the industry’s most fundamental training and skill development needs.
  • Bridgeport Regional Business Council (Conn.) co-founded and co-funded the Bridgeport Eco-Technology Park (pg. 11) as an outcome of its partnership in the BGreen Initiative. The Park is a development of reclaimed industrial land that has attracted several companies with a basis in recycling materials or clean-energy use. The Park now serves as a hub for `green' job creation and business growth.
  • The Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation (Pa.) relaunched Franklin County Works, an online job board focused on helping jobs seekers connect with companies with job openings. The site features local job listings, a resume bank and information about the foundation’s leadership training programs.
  • The Charleston Metro Chamber (S.C.), in partnership with Trident Technical College, held their annual Youth Apprenticeship Signing Day. During the event, 59 students were celebrated as they signed employment letters to become apprentices with Charleston-area businesses.
  • The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce participates in the regular meetings convened by the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, who collaborates with employers and other workforce stakeholders to create jobs, reduce unemployment and increase earnings for underprepared workers in the Chicago region. Attendees regularly share their initiatives and their progress, but more importantly, relationships are established and invaluable networking occurs. This kind of informal networking establishes trust, and encourages sharing of information and resources that would not occur otherwise.
  • The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce's (Ill.) program synopsis provides an in-depth look into creating a workforce development strategic plan.
  • Cincinnati USA & Northern Kentucky's Jobs Outlook 2020 - An executive summary of a new tool that provides projections on where jobs will be within the region and what training/education/experience will be required for those jobs. (The database behind the report has more than 800 job titles.)
  • Dallas Regional Chamber helped pioneer the Dallas Entrepreneur Center to assist startups in North Texas to start, build, and grow their businesses through mentoring, education, training, networking, space, and access to capital.
  • The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (Wis.) is focusing on strengthening the Health Sector and launched the HealthTech Capitol website as part of an initiative dedicated to establishing Greater Madison as the best place to start and grow health technology companies. The initiative was designed to help health tech companies leverage the area’s density of talent, capital and mentoring.
  • Greater Spokane Incorporated (Wash.) launched Greater Minds, a new community initiative to provide working adults the support to return to school, finish their degree and open the doors of opportunity. Learn more details in the chamber's Greater Minds Business Toolkit.
  • Greensboro Chamber of Commerce (N.C.) collaborated with a coalition of Piedmont Triad partners to develop Aviation Triad a new, multidimensional aviation marketing initiative. The initiative showcases the opportunities that technical aviation careers provide and connects job seekers with education and workforce development opportunities in the aviation sector.
  • The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce is a partner in the Los Angeles Workforce Systems Collaborative, which creates pathways to high demand, high growth industries, and sustainable careers to ensure the economic competitiveness of the Los Angeles region.
  • Metro Atlanta Chamber has teamed up with Accenture in the Your Talent, Your Future initiative to analyze the region’s talent supply, workforce needs and skills gaps.
  • Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce (Wis.) partnered with the local EDC to launch Someplace Better, a branding campaign designed to attract workers to the county.
  • The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (SWLA) Economic Alliance facilitates READY, SET, WORK, a community network dedicated to preparing local citizens to invest in education and training needed to qualify for employment in region’s growing industry sectors. The alliance published a Workforce Resource Guide to serve as a road map for their workforce preparation journey. It includes information to help individuals choose a career, get the training and certifications required, prepare a resume, acquire basic life skills and ultimately, land a job.
  • The Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce (Okla.) operates many affiliate divisions devoted to workforce development:
    • Choose Tulsa Jobs – A talent attraction website that includes job listings, employer profiles, cost of living information, and more.
    • Grow Metro Tulsa – An organization devoted to grow the economic prosperity of the region through a holistic approach that includes business retention, expansion, small business development, workforce attraction and quality of life. One unique feature of its website is that visitors can download custom “mini” reports on the state of each of Tulsa’s target industry sectors.
  • The Vail Valley Partnership (Colo.) and CareerWise launched an apprenticeship initiative designed to positively address the Vail Valley's workforce needs.


Chamber Talent Attraction Initiatives

  • Baton Rouge Area Chamber (La.) utilizes locals to drive talent attraction and assimilation:
    • Around the Table - community connectors ranging from CEOs to pastors to chancellors open their homes to host intimate dinners designed to help connect newcomers with locals.
    • Capital Region 101 – a half-day newcomer orientation that includes presentations by regional leaders, a brief bus tour, and visits to local establishments.
  • Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce’s (Idaho) economic development arm launched Grow Ideas Here, a 2015 Industry Exemplar. This website is a marketing tool to help local companies attract tech talent. It spotlights the people, places and potential of the Boise Valley with original articles from some of the region’s favorite storytellers. See Program Synopsis.
  • Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (S.C.) released an update to its Talent Demand Study, which provides data on the workforce pipeline for the region’s fastest growing industries. The study forecasts 26,000 new jobs in the region over the next five years and continued shortages in key industries.
  • Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce (Texas) launched AustinTechSource, an online service used to supply talent to Austin’s growing technology industry. Through this web tool, candidates can find employers, jobs, and training in the technology field, while employers can search for qualified candidates.
  • Greater Des Moines Partnership (Iowa) created the CarpeDM Seize Des Moines integrated social media/marketing initiative to engage the community in showcasing Greater Des Moines as an attractive place for talented individuals to live and work. The campaign, a 2015 Industry Exemplar, boosts local pride while helping draw prospective residents to the region. See Program Synopsis.
  • Greater Raleigh, Greater Durham, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chambers (N.C.), in collaboration with other regional economic development organizations created Work in the Triangle, a highly interactive, unconventional talent attraction web tool. The website presents the NC Research Triangle region as the ideal place to live, work, and play using a fun and quirky delivery method. In addition to compressive sections for workforce, education, and lifestyle, the website also offers
    • Smarty Pants Ambassador – program to recruit residents to help spread the word about all the Triangle Region has to offer
    • What’s Your Angle? – social platform used to connect locals and prospective transplants for networking and/or mentoring.
    • #TriangleTuesdays - A Twitter initiative where every Tuesday is dedicated solely to tweeting up-to-the-minute job openings
  • Michigan West Coast Chamber produces a very comprehensive, interactive, and highly visual Talent Attraction Guide.


Chamber Graduate Retention Initiatives


More Than Money: Philly Chamber Reports on 10 Key Practices to Retain Young Talent - Blog post summarizes a recommendations report based on an 18-month research initiative. Goal is to retain talented young professionals, defined as between the ages 25 to 39, as an essential component to the continued economic stability, innovation and growth of greater Philadelphia. Read the full report here. (Feb 2018)


General Workforce Development Resources

  • How labor shortages are strangling U.S. companies - Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar spoke on Episode 24 of The ROI Podcast presented by the Kelley School of Business about the workforce talent shortage and why companies should be investing in their talent pipelines. (October 2017)
  • On the Road: Learning from the Successful Swiss Apprenticeship System - Blog post from Jobs for the Future describing Switzerland’s exemplary vocational education and training system. (August 2017)
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Council of Chief State School Officers announced $20 million in grants to 10 states to strengthen career readiness. Government, business, and education leaders within the awarded states will work together to strengthen career education and create pathways to economic success. Chambers are engaged in many of the states, including Kentucky and Louisiana. Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson said, "The Initiative is an example of how business and education can work together to facilitate positive change and increase opportunities for Kentucky's students." (January 2017)
  • Connecting Unemployed Youth with Organizations That Need Talent - by Willa Seldon and Katie Smith Milway, Harvard Business Review article examines how tapping into youth employment training programs, especially focusing on disadvantaged young persons, offers a workforce trifecta that benefits companies, youth, and society. (November 2016)
  • The State of American Jobs - A Pew Research Center Report that examines how the shifting economic landscape is reshaping work and society and affecting the way people think about the skills and training they need to get ahead. (October 2016).
  • Hidden Talent: How Smart Companies Are Tapping Into Unemployed Youth - Study/article from Stanford Social Innovation Review. Refining the raw talent of the 5.5 million young Americans out of work and out of school provides compelling opportunities for companies, youth, and society—a rare trifecta—that a growing number of corporate leaders are betting on. (September 2016)
  • U.S. Dept. of Labor - Workforce Professionals Page - Source for information intended to assist workforce professionals in serving the needs of workers and business. Includes cluster maps, industry playbooks, and a detailed section on regulations stemming from the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA).
  • Putting WIOA to Work - Business Roundtable recently released a comprehensive action plan with strategies for CEOs to navigate and leverage the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). (September 2014)
  • Los Angeles Workforce Systems Collaborative Tools: Sector Intermediary Characteristics and Core Functions and Sector Intermediary Rubric
  • Building Blocks for Change: What it Means to be Career Ready from the Career Readiness Partner Council
  • Building Blocks Competency Model - Worksheet for employers to use to identify required competencies
  • Upjohn Institute's Guide to Workforce Development - The Upjohn Institute is a nonprofit, independent organization devoted to researching the causes and consequences of unemployment. Great source for abstracts, executive summaries, and listings of employment data research.


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Last Updated: 03/23/2018

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