The Commonwealth Institute is developing a report with suggestions for how the government can help prepare Virginians for the workforce needs of today. Jeff Connor-Naylor asked my advice on the topic, which I'm sure he regretted immediately given how much I can talk. Of course I mentioned having the right people at the table, but one of things that I kept coming back to was timing. According to the most recent labor report, there are 3.6M available job openings NOW! And even in this climate, companies have a difficult time hiring (check out this article to learn why). So if you have employers with needs and people willing to work, what's the problem? A few decades back, Dell made Just in Time manufacturing very popular. You went online, picked what features you wanted in your computer, and VOILA- they built it and shipped it with your custom requirements. Now Just In Time manufacturing is not a wholly new concept, but the more complex the customization, the harder it is to pull off (anyone who likes making tweaks at the drive thru window knows what I mean). But the key to addressing this complexity is breaking down the components into pieces that are easy to put together and passing information real time to know when you need more or less of something.
Why am I going on a manufacturing rant? Because what our country needs now is Just In Time TalentTM! This can only be achieved by passing real time employer needs to the people who supply the talent at every level! A great example of this is the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare program. Local employers in pain (i.e. facing a critical shortage in workforce) partnered with multiple organizations to meet residents at their skill levels while simultaneously meeting the employers need for skilled talent. The result? Career pathways in a vital industry for that community. There are examples of partnerships like this across the country, but what will it take to change these from anecdotes to scale-able solutions? Check out next week's post for more!