The RAEDC presented a workforce and company growth event last fall, “The Talent Tap Dance: Making the Right Moves for Workforce Development.” The program provided information that attendees discussed onsite, and can build upon at their workplace, to generate productivity and profitability with a dynamic workforce. Attracting, retaining, and developing workforce is a cornerstone of accelerating business growth, which plays a significant role in the economic development of the Rockford Region. Participants learned from other business leaders who’ve expanded their businesses with a successful approach to hiring, training, and retaining employees. The Keynote Speaker was Woodward V. P. of Human Resources June Hazzard. She presented Woodward’s unique approach to hiring and training, which can be adapted as a template at companies of all sizes. They also met with professionals who have proven systems that help to achieve these goals.
One of the major paradigm shifts we have seen in the world of Economic Development is a slight shift away from incentives and more focus on Workforce Development and the Education of our workforce. In the coming year, the Business Expansion and Retention Team will focus on Education for Workforce, and Workforce Development.
There are various organizations that an employer can call to try and fill specific positions. The issue becomes, the time it takes, especially a small manufacturer or business to call numerous organizations. One area of focus will be on aligning and helping to streamline the process an employer would have to call to find an individual to come work for them. The RAEDC will be partnering with the United Way using a Collective Impact Model in working to bring the numerous organizations under one database making it easier for our manufacturing, healthcare and business community to match individuals with workforce needs. Currently a business owner may have to call 5 or 6 places just to fill one position. Most likely, if they are a small business, they won’t have time and after they call they hope to get a call back. We would help facilitate this process for the business community to help put almost 18,000 unemployed people in the County back to work.
Our Education for Workforce Development Committee will also work through this process with us and help identify targets we can give to the school districts, Rock Valley College and other educational and training institutions that will help students and adults be job and career ready. We will continue to work in partnership with the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance in helping them secure grant funding for workforce development programs and internships in various industry sectors.
We are also exploring some options to build a coalition of manufacturers who could work together to develop training programs once individuals are hired; on the job training in crucial to the success of the company and our workforce. The Healthcare Industry in our area is already working together on a similar process, we look to learn from them and carry it into the Manufacturing world and other industries.
One of the strategic objectives for the Rockforward20/20 initiative includes strengthening the workforce pipeline by supporting education and training organizations through industry needs assessments and partnerships.
As we move into the future, all the incentives in the world cannot replace a strong educated and readily available workforce. This will be our strongest asset as we Rockforward to 2020.
Also published in The Voice, February 2016