Greater Springfield Partnership talks ways to grow labor force

Horton Hobbs, Greater Springfield Partnership Vice Prestident of Economic Development, talks about economic development Monday at the Springfield Rotary Club weekly meeting. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Horton Hobbs, Greater Springfield Partnership Vice Prestident of Economic Development, talks about economic development Monday at the Springfield Rotary Club weekly meeting. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Members of the Greater Springfield Partnership recently discussed what they are doing to mobilize the local workforce, as Clark County employers have struggled in recent years to grow the labor force.

Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the partnership, spoke to Springfield Rotarian members on Monday regarding work that is being done to educate residents and area students on local job opportunities.

Hobbs also talked about contributing factors that have historically left a shrinking labor pool in the county and efforts to correct that as the area has seen new investment and new jobs added in recent years.

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“We hear from our employers a lot that they can’t find people. There is a lot of back-and-forth on why that is. The presentation (Monday) was an attempt to kind of level the playing field so everybody kind of understands what the factors are that are driving all of this,” Hobbs said.

A lower birthrate, lack of workforce oriented programs in schools and retirements have led to a shrinking labor market.

In addition, 56% of Springfield residents work outside of the area, according to the Grater Springfield Partnership.

However, there is a more mobile workforce, and employers in Clark County have a larger radius in which they can pool labor from.

There has been action taken to address gaps left in the workforce, including several different strategies. That includes pooling several programs in order to create a strategic talent pipeline that focuses on different areas, such as aptitude, training and providing work opportunities.

That also ties into goals for the next five years that includes talent and education coordination, internship matching coordination, continued research into best practices, as well as retaining and expanding existing businesses and focusing on talent attraction and enhancing housing opportunities.

Efforts undertaken in the county include focusing on targeted messaging to residents that raises awareness about job opportunities in their own communities as well as showcasing career pathways, such as in manufacturing, to area K-12 students.

“Everybody’s got issues, but our community has strategies and we are really focused on them,” Hobbs said, noting that he feels efforts geared towards local schools and students will make a huge difference.

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That work in the community has taken forms in advertisement campaigns, partnering with local employers as well as higher education in order to provide job training opportunities, creating education videos for high school classrooms and better connecting those students to work opportunities.

“It is changing, it is not the same. What we are working on right now is different than what we were working on five years ago,” said Amy Donahoe, director of Workforce Development for the Greater Springfield Partnership.

“I think the reason we are winning is because we are bringing together workforce, economic development, the business community and our education partners. We are working on where we are going together and we are moving in the right direction together and I think that makes all the difference,” Donahoe added.

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