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Workforce agencies all over the country can struggle with building and maintaining a strong, healthy workforce. There are many factors that affect the readiness of a workforce, from global demand to local training programs. In this article, we’re going to define three trends–using real-life examples–that can significantly impact a community, and explain how you can cope with them.

An Aging Workforce

What is the average age of your workforce? If almost a quarter of your workers are over the age of 55, like the Pittsburgh, PA region, then you’ll want to start planning for the future now. An aging workforce could result in labor shortages, since there may not be enough young workers to fill the job gaps of retired workers.

If you do have an aging workforce, then you’ll want to work with your region’s employers and training providers to fully understand the jobs and skills needed for your region’s future. Make sure these skills are versatile across industries, so that workers can transition into a variety of jobs more easily.

Take a close look at your talent pool to see if there’s any potential for an upcoming supply/demand issue. Learn more about best practices by watching this webinar: How to Use Labor Market Information for Regional Workforce Planning.

Local vs. Global Business

It’s important for a region to bring in outside dollars from the rest of the world, rather than just recycling money within the community. (Economists call this the difference between “traded” and “non-traded” industries). Take a look at your region’s businesses. Are they made up of mostly local, non-traded businesses such as retail stores and restaurants, or are they made up of global, traded industries such as agriculture and manufactured goods?

Cities like Birmingham, AL have used Burning Glass Technologies data to analyze their job market to see if they meet the national average percentage of employment in traded industries, which is 36%. The Birmingham region falls below the national average at 28.8%, meaning they are missing out on opportunities available in an interconnected world.

In order to expand your region’s amount of traded industries, you’ll want to make sure you have the workforce to back them up. Analyze your current talent pool to discover which businesses you can attract based on the skills your workforce has. For instance, if you discover that you have a large amount of software developers in your region, then you can create incentives to lure  software companies, bringing in more outside dollars into your community.

For more ideas, and to see how the Birmingham region plans to build a stronger workforce, read Building (It) Together: A Framework for Aligning Education and Jobs in the Greater Birmingham Region.

The Future of Work

Today’s jobs are rapidly evolving due to the explosive growth of technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is just one of the many advancements that is already making waves in today’s job market, from the emergence of self-checkout kiosks to the automation of banking jobs. So how will it impact jobs in your region?

To answer this question, you’ll want to dig into the current makeup of jobs in your region. How many of these jobs are at a high risk of automation, meaning they could be performed by technology in the next decade? Some of these high-risk occupations include retail salespersons, cashiers, fast food workers, and office clerks. And how many of these jobs are at low risk of automation, such as registered nurses, school teachers, operations managers, and computer systems analysts?

Our team recently worked with New America, a nonpartisan think tank, to conduct a first-of-its-kind analysis to better understand the broader impact of technology. Specifically, New America looked at the potential of how automation can impact jobs in the greater Phoenix region. Based on this analysis, New America found that workers in at-risk occupations need to continuously upskill to keep pace with the changing requirements of their occupation. Additionally, Burning Glass research has found low-skill workers have a variety of options to survive automation.

In Conclusion

The best solution that we’ve seen work for many agencies is to form a coalition with community partners, from education professionals to business owners to government leaders. By bringing together local experts, you can all collaborate to create an action plan, and begin taking steps together to build a stronger workforce.

To stay up-to-date on the latest news in today’s labor market, follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter today.

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