A Workforce Crisis May be Looming

Ignore it at your own risk

If our economic development clients are any indicator, we may be rapidly entering a national workforce crisis. Just a couple of years ago, the industry was in an all-out slug fest over jobs and investment projects. A shortage of available buildings was part of every discussion, and many built spec buildings, looking for any edge they could get. Today, things are dramatically different. The new battle is over workforce.

Over that past few months, we’ve received numerous calls from communities wanting to turn their marketing focus toward workforce attraction. With unemployment rates in many communities nearing the 3% range, employers are regularly reaching out to economic developers, begging for help.

An odd result of the situation is that those communities with higher unemployment rates may be at an advantage. Can you believe that? Higher unemployment is a good thing! So, if your unemployment rate is at 7%, for example, and your community leaders are asking what you’re doing, remind them that you have an available workforce that many communities can no longer offer.

In a recent article by site consultant Kink White, he wrote that “full employment makes it increasingly difficult for employers trying to staff their facilities around the country as well as economic development organizations trying to attract them.” His article, and map, indicates that 142 metro areas have reached full employment.

Of course, EDOs and community leaders continue to work with educators to prepare workers, but that may not be fast enough. It needs to be done, but employers need help now, today.

At Brand Acceleration, we’ve embraced our deep media roots. Utilizing a variety of very sophisticated technologies, we are attacking the problem with multiple online, media, and direct approaches to reach available and willing workers.

Politically, a workforce attraction program can be a bit uncomfortable for some, especially elected officials. There is bound to be someone in your community who says, “You want to spend money to offer our local jobs to outsiders when we have unemployed people right here at home? We’ll get murdered in public opinion.” Which is worse, helping employers by attracting workers to fill their jobs or risking the loss of an expansion project because your community labor force is tapped out? Even worse, an employer could relocate to an area with broader workforce potential.

The answer is clear. In America, about 4% of the adult population doesn’t want to work, including a few able-bodied folks who are happily sitting at home collecting a government check. So, if your unemployment rate is near, or below 4%, you may be rapidly approaching a crisis.

At Brand Acceleration, we have engaged educators, site consultants, corporate executives, and workforce recruitment professionals in order to coalesce a strategy to help our client communities address this challenge.

We’d like to put these insights and strategies to work for you, too. Just give us a call and we’ll explore how we might partner with you and you community to attract and grow a skilled workforce for your employers.

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