Traditionally, individual companies have driven the training that higher education institutions create to solve skill gap shortages, with those companies working separately to develop workforce skills and a pipeline of qualified candidates.
Sector-based training takes a different approach.
Industry players work together to create common job descriptions, skill set requirements and applicant pools. By sitting around the same table, companies within that industry cluster can achieve economies of scale and increase training efficiency.
“We have a core group of unemployed and underemployed in Cleveland who can take advantage of some of these jobs, if given the proper training. They can be the workforce that you are seeking,” says William H. Gary Sr., executive vice president of Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) Workforce, Community and Economic Development Division. “We want to begin now, to ensure the future economic vitality of this region, and that these individuals and others seeking to advance their careers can benefit.”
Smart Business spoke with Gary about sector-based training and how he hopes to see it utilized in Northeast Ohio.
What is an example of this kind of training?
With the forthcoming Republican National Convention and downtown development, Cleveland’s hospitality industry expects exponential growth — at the same time the industry is shifting to be more focused on customer service and technology. In response, Tri-C invited hotel general managers to a focus group to discuss their challenges and talent shortages.
The general managers were receptive to a sector approach for addressing both short- and long-term needs. Short-term training solutions, such as boot camps, will fill some of their immediate needs, in order to meet the expected demand. Right now, we’re developing camps designed to accelerate customer service training, which is a key aspect of meeting their employment needs.
Leaders in the restaurant industry also heard about the focus group meeting and asked if they could be included as well.
What other industries can benefit from this approach in Northeast Ohio?
The largest potential is for industries that drive the region’s economy — those that face talent shortages while projecting a lot of future growth. It also works better for industries with specialized skill set requirements and clearly-defined career pathways. Here, that could include manufacturing, information technology, health care, construction and public safety.
You mentioned this is being adopted throughout the country, what do you mean?
There are examples nationwide of sectorial approaches to addressing workforce development need in critical skill areas. In the Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia areas, in order to address a critical shortage of skilled and credentialed nurses, the community college, in collaboration with area hospitals and health care organizations, collaborated to create a Healthcare Alliance Consortium. By pooling financial resources, engaging K-12 schools and working with an independent consultant, the consortium created a sustainable workforce development system and model for addressing the workforce needs of an entire industry sector.
How do you get organizations that compete with each other around the same table?
Competitiveness is a key obstacle, but not insurmountable, especially in Northeast Ohio. It’s important to remember, however, that a sectorial approach doesn’t have to be in lieu of individual organization recruitment strategies. It can be institutionalized in parallel with existing workforce development strategies. The value proposition is increased efficiencies, reduced training and recruitment costs, standardization, access to greater pools of resources, and the development of a sustainable workforce systems approach to addressing workforce challenges and skills shortages.
Not only is the cost lowered, because you’re training larger pools of candidates that benefit the entire industry, but it also develops common standards and skill set requirements and credentialing across the industry. Then, no matter where your potential employee receives training or works, hopefully he or she will have a set of standard credentials that are portable and acceptable throughout the state.
Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College