Here’s how York County is working to close the workforce gap | Opinion

Downtown York, Pa. (Photo by Kevin Wingfield Flickr Commons)

By Kevin Schreiber

We hear it each and every day from businesses –- they need employees. Whether manufacturing or healthcare, sole proprietors to large corporations, the labor shortage affects us all.

With 15,000 York Countians likely to retire over the next decade, there is a distinct and urgent need to educate, train, attract, and retain a skilled, talented, and diverse workforce in York County.

In an effort to begin to move the needle on this issue, the York County Economic Alliance spent the better part of 2018 facilitating strategic discussion between employers, educators, workforce agencies, and civic leaders.

That effort culminated in the creation of “Pathways to Prosperity,” a countywide workforce development plan.

We have convened a robust Workforce Advisory Committee comprised of over 40 partners in the business, education, and community service industry that have begun to implement this plan in earnest.

The ultimate goal is to stimulate a vibrant community and a growing, innovative economy through matching the demands of local and regional employers with a supply of employees from educational and training institutions. Further, through this collaborative effort, we plan to identify local data to measure the needs of our county, identify gaps in services, future industrial needs, resources to leverage opportunities, and best practices currently underway.

This is a complicated but ever-present and economic issue that is not unique to York; however York is uniquely attempting to foster countywide solutions.

Simply put, we do not have the human capital to meet the current demands of our regional economy. Thus, we need an all of the above approach to solve this challenge. We believe that the Pathways to Prosperity action plan will set a course in a positive, meaningful direction.

All of the above includes all levels of government. Last week, we welcomed U.S. Sen Bob Casey to United Fiber & Data, where he spent 90 minutes listening to the workforce needs of our county directly from our workforce partners and employers. He heard many of the things that we know –- funding support is needed for vocational education programs; barriers exist for stable employment; and of course, a stark need for more skilled employees to fill vacancies.

We heard from our partners in the room such as Crispus Attucks Center for Employment & Training, HACC York, Community Progress Council, and York County Alliance for Learning, who were vocal and honest in advocating for our county. We heard from many major employers across all industries, notably healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and technology.

To further discuss these items, the YCEA will host a Workforce Development Summit on April 16 at HACC York. We invite all to participate in these critical conversations. Work sessions include Talent Attraction & Retention with Vibrant Pittsburgh, Funding for Training Opportunities, and Workforce Transportation Equity with the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia.

More can be found on YCEAPA.org.

This is one of many steps necessary to ensure that York County will continue to attract and retain the talent needed to retain our economic competitive edge, and position our community for future success.

Kevin Schreiber is the president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance. He writes from York, Pa.

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