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Workforce isn't just a buzz word--it's part of an emerging reality facing communities across the nation. The problem stems from the fact that growing economies like ours are literally going to run out of people to hire. As the baby boomer generation leaves the workforce, there aren't going to be enough people to fill their positions because the working population is shrinking. As unemployment continues to fall, individuals with highly specialized skills will be in high demand.
"There's going to be a mad scramble for talent in the next few years," former CNBC Chief Economist Marci Rossell told the audience at the Springfield Business Development Corporation Annual Meeting this week.
This competition for talent won't just exist between companies, but also communities. Already, efforts similar to our own Talent Attraction Initiative are popping up in a handful of cities across the country. Participants of the Chamber's Community Leadership Visit saw this in Omaha with the "We Don't Coast" branding campaign--an initiative of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce designed to attract new business and talent to the region.
Rossell went on to explain that as Millenials become more secure in the new economy, they are reaching an age where they will feel comfortable doing two things: changing jobs and relocating. For a generation that has spent most of its adult life in a recession, cost of living and ease of transportation will be more important than ever.
"They are naturally going to gravitate to the most family-friendly place they can find," Rossell said.
This national trend, confirmed by the intel that the Chamber receives from businesses through its Existing Business Support Program is why the Chamber has elevated workforce development as a fourth strategic area of focus.
"The number one concern that businesses talk to us about is the workforce—not just in terms of attraction and retention, but development as well," 2015 Chairman of the Board Tom Hilmes said at the Chamber's Annual Meeting.
Video by the City of Springfield.
Within our community there are several efforts already underway to ensure that over the long term our region's talent pool can supply a growing economy.
One such initiative, a survey conducted by the Ozark Region Workforce Investment Board and the Missouri Career Center came out last month and will lay the foundation for many efforts to come.
The findings of the MOmentum 2015 State of the Workforce study were announced at a luncheon on January 23, and took a deeper dive beyond testimonials from companies and national trends surrounding workforce development.
Specifically, the study which consisted of complete responses from 368 businesses and educational institutions found that within our region:
Job-specific knowledge/technical skills were the most frequently identified skill deficiencies of job applicants (each mentioned by nearly 50% of survey respondents).
71% of respondents reported that at least some of their jobs/positions required employees to have a background in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
The top three occupational fields that organizations will look to recruit from over the next five-to-ten years are business, management, and administration; marketing, sales, and service; and information technology/computer science.
The partner organizations which sponsored the study plan to use this data to guide the development of workforce initiatives which will develop over the coming years.