Workforce Development: A real world example of regional collaboration

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Polarization abounds in the country today but locally, we have many stakeholders who are coming together for one common goal: workforce development. 

The Lynchburg region has some incredible advantages—unparalleled natural resources, low cost of living and a diverse employer base. But with unemployment hovering around 4%, workforce remains the greatest challenge and our biggest opportunity.  Our national travels to meet with site consultants and other community leaders, however, show us that we’re not alone. Workforce development is either top or number two priority across the country.  A recent study by Deloitte reveals nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade. However, because of economic expansion and the large number of expected retirements, current projections forecast that nearly 2 million of those jobs will remain unfilled. 

This region’s efforts to bring together education, industry, workforce and non-profit leaders to address this issue is to be applauded.  In case you’re wondering what’s happening, these leaders have created a region-wide talent solutions team which meets with individual companies to create a customized workforce plan to fill their needs.  Workforce development agencies are all co-branding under the Virginia Career Works brand so that no matter how you seek a job in our region, each of these agencies point to regional resources and opportunities.  On Friday, Oct. 5, these leaders will convene for the 2018 Regional Workforce Summit to further collaborate on ideas to enhance our workforce strategies including middle and high school outreach.  And next April, these leaders as well as the chambers of commerce from across the region, will ban together to host a region-wide career expo. This fun, educational, hands-on opportunity will be aimed for students to become familiar with a broad overview of high demand, high wage career opportunities available in the area.
In a world where there is so much divide, we say thank you to the many leaders in our community who are banning together for the betterment of our employers, our future workforce and our region.

Christine Kennedy, CCE, CPC  
COO, Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance
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