Talent is a key element of the region’s supply chain

Talent is our region’s most valuable resource. Northeast Ohio boasts a workforce that’s 2 million strong, with more than 25 higher education institutions in the region producing 40,000 graduates annually.

Despite talent living and learning in our region, thousands of well-paying jobs go unfilled each year. This shortfall is rooted in a mismatch of business needs versus candidate qualifications. Talent development is a critical ingredient for optimizing human potential and advancing the region’s economy. Without a robust talent development pipeline, businesses based here face obstacles to growth and future business attraction could be thwarted.

Major headlines from the past year underscore the need to accelerate talent efforts as cutting-edge technologies reshape our economy — Intel’s plans to make massive investments in Ohio, Ford’s intent to manufacture electric cars in Lorain, the role of NASA Glenn in developing the Artemis mission to the moon and GM’s strategy to operate its Lordstown lithium battery plant seven days per week. None of these major initiatives can be sustained without a ready, well-prepared and diverse talent pool.

Collaborative efforts are under way in Northeast Ohio to raise awareness of the needs of businesses now and into the future, and the education students need to improve their chances of matching qualifications to hiring priorities. Regional economic development leadership is focused on harnessing current research, financial resources and strategic relationships to enhance talent development efforts.

Team NEO, through its Talent Development Council (TDC), is one of several organizations focused on addressing the complexities of this talent challenge for our region. In 2017, Team NEO began publishing Aligning Opportunities in the Northeast Ohio Region, a resource designed to assist in navigating the supply and demand issues in the region’s workforce. Over time, this report has provided the region’s education, talent and workforce ecosystem partners “with insights into the emerging needs of our region’s employers to ensure our region’s talent pool is ready to take on the opportunities of tomorrow.” Jacob Duritsky, Team NEO’s VP of Strategy & Research, emphasizes “the criticality of the TDC’s role as a forum to drive broader strategy alignment, essential to closing the talent gap.”

The TDC draws together more than 50 community leaders from higher education institutions, companies, nonprofits and workforce organizations to craft comprehensive, regional talent development solutions. TDC members collaborate to evaluate the talent pipeline, policy initiatives, pilot programs, regional performance and participation. Through its efforts, the TDC grows jobs, nurtures and develops talent across the region, and ensures equitable access to opportunities.

Other key regional talent initiatives under sway include the Greater Cleveland Partnership Talent Hub, the Cleveland Talent Alliance led by Destination Cleveland, and Ohio to Work, a JobsOhio-funded and MAGNET-led partnership that provides those seeking employment with career opportunities designed to increase income and improve quality of life.

For all companies and organizations working in the talent development space, awareness of and collaboration with regional efforts will be pivotal to ensuring Northeast Ohio has the talent it needs to foster a diverse and vibrant regional economy. ●

Deborah D. Hoover is CEO of Entrepreneurship Education Consortium

Deborah D. Hoover

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