Opportunities At Our Doorstep

June 27, 2016

Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.
-Napoleon Hill

Sometimes you’re not sure if you should be frustrated or excited. Meeting the workforce challenge of a global, advanced economy in the midst of a rapidly changing demographic and social environment is proving difficult for our country. However, it seems that all of the ingredients to address the problem are within our grasp.

Consider this excerpt from Chapter 7 of America’s Moment:

“If it was functioning well, the American labor market would do a reasonably good job of matching Americans to opportunities. Employers would be able to signal what skills they need. Job applicants would be able to signal clearly what they can do. Educators and trainers would respond quickly to fill the gaps. But the American labor market does not work nearly as well as it should. Credentials are out of date and often not very meaningful to employers. Job applicants have trouble knowing what skills are desired and finding flexible ways to learn them. Educators and trainers are out of sync with the fast-changing economy.”

Specifically, the “middle-skills” job gap is a solvable problem. According to the Harvard Business School, “the demand for “middle-skills” jobs—those that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree—remains high, yet the lack of a properly skilled workforce is hindering the ability of American businesses to compete globally.” The National Skills Coalition adds that middle skills jobs make up the largest part of the labor market in all 50 states – see the national and statewide data here. Here in Ohio, a state that often mirrors the diversity of the country, over 50 percent of jobs are considered middle skills jobs.

Connecting people with these jobs are paramount to the success of our companies and our citizens. We ask that employers take a hard look at their job listings and what is required to add flexibility. We ask that those who help jobseekers to translate applicant skills and employer needs. Currently, there are over 40,000 jobs listings in the Columbus Region, and an estimated 20,000 of these career opportunities are considered middle-skills jobs.

I would like to stress that this is not an indictment of any one segment of the system. It is simply an opportunity that can be addressed very well with minor adjustments by each sector of the labor market.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and ideas.

-Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • We extend our personal condolences to the Wolfe family. John F. Wolfe was a kind, thoughtful, encouraging man that made a great difference to his family and those who crossed his path. Through his direct engagement in numerous community organizations and through his philanthropy, he made the lives of so many people in our community much, much better. Details regarding funeral arrangements are available here.
  • Thank you to the JobsOhio team for setting the stage for a great SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C. last week. Dozens of Ohio economic developers joined under the JobsOhio umbrella to promote our state and regions to over 2,000 international companies, and an important project in Pickaway County was highlighted by President Obama.
  • Congratulations to the City of Columbus on winning the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge!