At a recent Agbioscience Innovation Summit held in Indianapolis, a panel of experts discussed industry challenges: “What’s the key factor in a startup’s success? Employees. Why had a particular agbioscience company moved to Indiana? The people. What does a CEO think is the most important thing to invest in now? Talent.”
It seems like a simple equation: investment in your workforce equals economic growth. Talented, skilled employees attract new employers, increase community satisfaction, and raise the median income. Workforce development builds up the potential of everyone: not just the currently employed, but also the unemployed, underemployed, disabled, and veterans. When we focus on building up our people, the entire community thrives.
How do we do it? Forward Wayne County has created an Employability Coalition with members from Ivy Tech, IUE, WorkOne, EDC, local employers and more. The mission of the Coalition is to drive a collaborative and collective effort to move the dial forward on connecting our residents to opportunities and developing the talent we currently have.
The Employability Coalition started meeting in December. We began by understanding the current state of the Wayne County workforce. We reviewed workforce surveys and focus groups. In January, the Coalition took a huge step towards prioritizing workforce development locally by agreeing to work toward becoming part of a 21st Century Talent Region.
21st Century Talent Region& Wayne County Wayne County will become a 21st Century Talent Region by committing to using a systems approach to attract, develop, and connect Hoosier talent. Communities work toward building and implementing a plan to increase educational attainment, raise household income, and grow population – all things that would help elevate Wayne County.
We all benefit from prioritizing workforce development: – Students: able to identify a career and education path best suited to them earlier, leading to credentials for employment. – Educators: get the opportunity to further align learning with the needs of the community. – Adult workers: are able to transition more easily to new careers if impacted by technology, displacement, or other circumstances. – Businesses: access the talent needed to grow. – Community leaders: are able to invest resources to develop, attract, connect, and retain talent.
This program has been effective in other regions in the state and we are eager to implement it here. This is a large undertaking, but a critical next step to move Wayne County Forward and develop a workforce that is responsive to industry needs, ready to work, and sustainable for the future.