Framing Clermont County Workforce Development Strategies
A New Approach to Economic Development
Economic development has long focused on industrial site development, attracting companies, creating jobs, and offering low-cost business inputs. The new economic development, however, gives greater attention to generating new knowledge to grow new businesses or to transform existing ones through innovation.
This new vision of economic development implies that successful regions are no longer primarily dependent on inputs such as natural resources or low-cost manufacturing, but rather on the intellectual abilities of their people.
Embracing this new approach, many economic development organizations today are switching their strategies from offering tax incentives to collaboratively invest in talent, quality jobs, learning and entrepreneurship. At a local level, these collaborations usually present themselves as public-private partnerships where local companies, economic development and educational organizations, investors and governments interact to encourage innovation and stimulate local economic growth.
Clermont County, as a pioneer in Cincinnati metropolitan region, has commenced its efforts in moving towards a new approach to economic development. Adopting that approach, this study investigates the workforce needs of Cincinnati regional target industries, and offers recommendations on how to address those needs in order to remain competitive as a region.
Key Observations and Remarks
- Cincinnati’s regional target industries are found to be 13 percent very high, 38 percent high, 30 percent moderate, and 19 percent low skill1 oriented. The data suggest that together high and moderate skilled workforce represents nearly the 70 percent of the employment in target industries of Cincinnati.
- While the high skilled workforce is becoming more and more critical for many industries, people with relatively lower skills, representing a greater share of the workforce, still hold their importance for these industries. As the data suggest for our regional target industries together the moderate and low skilled workforce is as important as the workforce with high and very high skills.
- A large majority (78 %) of the moderate-skill workforce is expected either to have extensive work experience or to be required to complete some level of educational or job training. While training seems to be most needed for occupations related to office and administrative support, sales, and business and financial operations, an associate’s degree becomes most important for computer and mathematical occupations.
The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Developing Skills
There are several ways in which public-private partnerships can help develop the necessary skills of 21st Century workforce. Depending on the term and the purpose these programs, their results will vary drastically. While sustainable results generally involve long term efforts, immediate actions can be taken to support business’ needs.
- Long term efforts that focus on K-12 education are needed in order to increase success in postsecondary education, and develop the necessary interest and skills at an earlier age.
- Moderate and short-term solutions mostly include training programs that are enacted in order to encourage businesses to invest in employee skills. Many programs throughout the nation set aside resources for firms that underinvest in skills training such as those in manufacturing industry.
Finally, the literature on workforce development suggests that training designed by employers is beneficial to all partners; to trained employees through increased earnings, employers through increased intangible assets and higher level of productivity, and moreover to local governments through increased taxes paid by businesses and decreased costs of social programs.
To stimulate economic growth, Clermont County needs to ensure it has the talent to support innovative enterprises. For sustainable economic development, Clermont County should identify the workforce related challenges of its businesses and then formulate a coordinated effort to address them through short and long term development strategies.
- Communicate to the public and all stakeholders the importance of an integrated workforce development investment that starts with K-12 education.
- Recruit partner organizations/companies to create public-private support for efforts by K-12 schools in preparing students for post-secondary education and life-long learning.
- Work to support expanding the region’s post-secondary education (vocational training, associate and college) system and number of graduates prepared for supporting the workforce needs of regional growth sectors.
- Build a public-private partnership linking business, government and education to support the preceding recommendations.
1 Skill levels are assessed as a combination of education and experience requirements, and earnings.