Building an Equity-Driven Workforce

Written by: Donna Clapp
Published on: Jun 7, 2022

diverse workforce
Photo credit: insta_photos/Adobe Stock

You may have heard it is currently an “employees’ market” in terms of hiring, and that is absolutely an understatement, with media calling the time period in which we live, “The Great Resignation.” With an unemployment rate of 3.6% for March 2022, we have lower unemployment than we did pre-pandemic when it was at 4.4% in March of 2020. This nationwide workforce shortage has become top of mind in terms of both business concerns and economic development strategies.

“It’s all really supply and demand,” said Dennis Donovan, Founder of Wadley Donovan Gutshall Consulting, corporate site selection consultants. “You’ve got baby boomers leaving the workforce, limited immigration, and heavy competitive demand.”

Well, guess what? That’d be the reason for labor shortages. But then of course, we need to look at the fact that as a country, we have not done a good enough job career pathing for some of the technical fields either. So, particularly in manufacturing just finding workers at all is so difficult right now. I think communities are going to have to have workforce development as one of their most important pillars right now. And a goal really should be to have the number of workers in positions, mirror the percentage of diversity in the adult population of that region.”

In fact, in many communities, the labor shortage has turned economic development strategy upside down, because bringing jobs to the community has always been the focus, but now developing a skilled workforce has become even more of a focus than ever before. Without creating workforce development programs that help attract, train and retain workers, economic developers risk corporations choosing other locations for their expansion and relocation projects.

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