The very future of our region is dependent upon our ability as a community to come together to bridge the gaps in both racial equity and the future (and current!) workforce needs of employers. Half of our members say workforce is a pain point right now and 75% say it is now or will be in the next two to five years.
The Partnership, as the backbone of Employ Buffalo Niagara, has set out to understand where the gaps are and how they can be filled. Employ Buffalo Niagara – a coalition of over 100 employers, workforce intermediaries, and education and training providers – has banded together to meet our needs and solve our challenges.
As a result of our work, I was invited to sit on a panel for the Federal Reserve Bank’s “Investing in America’s Workforce” summit and book release earlier this month. The Fed released a 1500 page volume of research and data on defining what works, as well as what employers, workforce intermediaries and job seekers need to do differently to address our workforce needs.
Three key questions were asked, and the book attempts to answer the following:
- How are job seekers – particularly workers facing challenges in the labor market — viewed as assets that can drive innovation and build employers’ competitiveness?
- How can enhancing the quality of work, as well as implementing place-based job creation strategies help to attract and retain skilled workers?
- How can public, private and non-profit sectors coordinate efforts and integrate new technologies and finance models to meet the needs of both workers and employers?
One theme that was consistent is that employers need to be at the table and lead in this space.
Sometimes I feel like we are slogging through a quagmire (and we are) but events like this, where leading thinkers are advocating for exactly what we are doing, is rewarding and makes me understand that what we are doing here in Buffalo Niagara is remarkable.