- Jobs & Skills
Localizing The Jobs EffortSeptember 6, 2012
Fred Dedrick, executive director of National Fund for Workforce Solutions, argues that employers and trainers must think local to address unemployment and the skills gap.
The skills gap is often blamed for nationwide unemployment numbers, but most of these jobs are “middle-skilled” positions in advanced manufacturing, healthcare and construction that often don’t require a college degree, writes Fred Dedrick, executive director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.
The issue, however, boils down to the local community, Dedrick states in a blog post for The Huffington Post. “As a nation, we have not figured out how to get jobseekers ready and into the jobs that exist, or will exist, in their community,” he writes. “And that may be the key: There is no such thing as a national economy when it comes to workforce development. The jobs that are and will be available and the skill sets needed by employers vary by community and industry.”
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions, for which Dedrick works, is one example of a locally focused initiative working to close the skills gap, he states. The group, developed with the support of national foundations, is being implemented in 30 communities nationwide, each creating its own unique strategy transforming how workers gain employment.
“When it comes to addressing the skills gap and the future needs of employers – we must think local. The NFWS and its 30 communities are showing that effective working partnerships led by employers not only help get unemployed or under-employed workers into sustainable career pathways, but can also lay the groundwork for economic recovery.”
Assessments show that employers are seeing a return on their investment with benefits including more engaged workers, better work place results and cost-effectiveness, Dedrick reports. He points to the model used by Health Careers Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati as one that “is building career paths for frontline workers at healthcare institutions.”
And though the programs are driven by regional economic conditions, Dedrick argues there is one common characteristic: “a key understanding of key industry sectors developed through workforce partnerships led by employers.”
Dedrick says each community works closely with employers to identify current and future business requirements and to create training specifically designed to meet those needs. These local efforts, he writes, are helping thousands of low-income Americans get back to work or retrained on sustainable career paths. “Perhaps most important, they are teaching us how communities can develop their own answers to the skills gap challenge,” he writes.