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Reaping the Rewards of Workforce and Economic Development

The autumn chill has hit much of the country, but many communities’ efforts to stoke workforce and economic development initiatives remain red-hot. As the stories of community outreach to Amazon to secure the company’s second headquarters remain front-page fixtures, we haven’t lost sight of the other stories of workforce and economic development that are happening nationwide that are equally deserving of attention—stories that we are proud to help write.

From helping build career pathways to help displaced workers leverage their existing skills into new roles, to developing frameworks for creating alignment between local labor supply and industry demand, CAEL’s WED team is hard at work helping communities evolve their approaches to workforce development.

As always, we look forward to the opportunity to work with you, too.



IEDC Reflections

With the theme “Going Global,” the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) held its 2017 gathering in Toronto. As we consider how economic development trends impact any given local or regional workforce, globalization in an idea that sparks fears of offshoring, downward pressure on wages and changes to labor markets that can leave many unconnected to that global economy and the prosperity that it makes available to some.

IEDC’s Higher Education Advisory Council (of which CAEL is a member) helped to create the conference’s “Workforce Round Robin,” a session that featured a number of efforts to address economic developers’ workforce and higher education challenges. If attendance and engagement are any indication, workforce issues remain a key concern across the economic development community. CAEL has long held that communities’ workforce and education efforts are not just reactive to business and economic development needs, but can be put forth as key assets for business attraction, expansion and retention.

Read IEDC Reflections

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Helping Communities Grow

We are actively engaged in projects throughout the country, helping communities grow and prosper. Here are a few of our current projects.

  • Aligning entry and middle-skill worker requirements across healthcare employers in Chicago
  • Creating career awareness and advising support tools across Tennessee
  • Helping college/workforce board partnerships to facilitate credential completion in Miami, Seattle, Philadelphia and Norfolk
  • Mapping transferable retail skills to other demand sectors nationally
  • Facilitating transfer of military STEM skills into high demand civilian occupations in Seattle and D.C./Maryland
  • Helping colleges across Missouri to align their programs with national assessments and industry certifications
  • Helping colleges in Mississippi, Colorado, Illinois and West Virginia improve their prior learning assessment (PLA) programs and grant college credit for work-based learning

This is where we were in Q3 and the start of Q4. Were you there too? We would love to hear about your experiences!

Toronto, ON | 9/17-9/20
Chicago, IL | 9/25-9/27
2017 Cradle to Career Network Convening
Phoenix, AZ | 10/3-10/5
Austin, TX | 10/4-10/6
Salt Lake City, UT | 10/25-10/26
San Diego, CA | 11/15-11/17
*CAEL was among the featured speakers

Client Corner - EmployIndy

CAEL has partnered with EmployIndy to carry out an initiative to create career pathways within the IT industry for entry-level workers in Marion County, Indiana. The goals of this project were to:

  • Validate and react to quantitative labor market data
  • Identify short term challenges and successes in hiring
  • Review regional labor marketplace, and determine where and how demand finds supply
  • Uncover IT industry trends that will change labor demand
  • Understand skill needs, how they change and how they can be acquired by job seekers

CAEL recently spoke with EmployIndy’s Senior Director of Development, Chelsea Meldrum ‎and Communications Manager Joe Backe for their insights on the region’s recent workforce development needs and the career pathways initiative.

CAEL: What issues are EmployIndy helping remediate?

EmployIndy: There are few relevant career and training pathway resources, particularly in the IT industry given that it changes so rapidly. So, it’s difficult for tech startups, which have come to the area in large numbers, to identify what their needs are to build and develop their workforce.

In terms of the populations EmployIndy focuses on, the other issue is how to provide the appropriate level of support and wraparound services, as well as the relevant training providers to serve unique contextualized needs of different populations.

CAEL: What makes the region’s workforce unique?

EmployIndy: Really, a significant value proposition for companies attracted to the region is the dedication and value of its workers—they really exemplify the Midwest work ethic you hear about.

While we have a lot of larger companies in the region like Salesforce, which has its second hub in Indianapolis, Angie’s List/Home Advisor, and InfoSys, which is setting up here in the next few years and will establish another 2,000 jobs, we’ve also seen a lot of startups in the area. 

 In the case of InfoSys, their attraction to Indianapolis has been related to the training and education providers, like Purdue and Rose-Hulman, and the ability to embed in an area where they would have access to quality educators that could help them be very responsive both to their own workforce development and training needs, as well as those of the individuals they are looking to hire or who are coming out of those education systems.

CAEL: What role has CAEL played in the efforts to build career pathways for workers in the region?

EmployIndy: With such a regional emphasis on technology, and EmployIndy’s emphasis on growing the skillsets of both our opportunity youth and those underemployed or underrepresented in the labor force, there aren’t a lot of entry-level pathways that exist, beyond the obvious IT help desk, tier one, tier two type helpdesk roles. So we’ve been working with CAEL to help us identify how we can put individuals on pathways that lead to some of those more sophisticated technology related jobs.

Someone who dropped out of high school, for instance, probably doesn’t see themselves on a trajectory to becoming a developer or a coder, but we want to show how interests in gaming and online sports leagues really might parlay well into careers that we all know aren’t going away.

CAEL has helped connect the dots for a person that’s at point A, who might not even know that they could seek a career at point B. CAEL’s resources help explain to them that there is a path from A to B and that maybe someone’s skillset, based on interest and previous experience, might not be as far away from meaningful roles as they think.

CAEL: How will the success of this project be defined? 

Our interest is in making a quality impact on a smaller scale. Our immediate interest in working with the tools that CAEL helped develop is around how we can integrate all of our partners in each of our target areas, to prove this concept of moving low-skilled, unemployed or underemployed, young people who are untapped workers, into high-demand industries.

That outcome will help us realize all three of our goals in our 2017-2022 strategic action plan (PDF), and help EmployIndy reach the right people in the city that can put the tools in use to really build a more equitable approach to workforce development in Indianapolis.

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