We have added a new blogger to the CRC Blog line-up! Janice Urbanik from Partners for a Competitive Workforce will be blogging for us for the rest of the year. Below is her first blog.
Hello and allow me to introduce myself. I am the Director of Industry Partnerships for Partners for a Competitive Workforce (PCW), a workforce initiative managed by the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. For at least the next month or so, I am also the interim Executive Director for PCW as Ross Meyer, the current Executive Director, has assumed the role of VP of Community Impact at the United Way. These are certainly exciting times because Ross has a very clear and compelling vision for making meaningful and lasting impact in our community and I am proud to have a role in bringing that vision to life.
Contributing this blog to the Community Research Collaborative is a great honor and I look forward to sharing with you the outstanding work that is happening in our community to create career pathways for individuals into the in-demand occupations in our region. Our results have garnered national awards and attention, yet it seems very few right here at home know much about it. My hope is that this blog helps to fix that.
My background is a bit varied, but there is a constant thread throughout – understanding and improving processes and systems. I hail from Pittsburgh, which makes me a persona non grata during football season, and moved to Cincinnati 30 years ago to work at P&G in their engineering division as a staff mechanical engineer. I started working in the various boiler houses owned by P&G because I was fascinated by how water could be made into steam to make electricity. Through various assignments in foods, baby care, and health care, I specialized in developing the processes that make the products, but also realized a passion for organizational development, i.e., improving the systems for training and assignment matching to help a person develop to their full potential. During one of my mid-life crises, I opted to leave P&G to pursue another passion of helping women attain careers in non-traditional occupations. Fast-forward 12 years and I am truly in my dream job. Developing the career pathways to prepare people to start and advance in good paying careers, especially in industries like construction and manufacturing which share a negative brand image, is a challenge that I readily accept. Read on to learn how our community has rallied to meet this challenge!
Workforce Needs in Our Community
A lot of people ask….coming out of the Great Recession, are there really jobs in our area? The answer is YES! There are over 30,000 open positions in our region, yet there are still 130,000+ people looking for work. How can that be? Well, it is the skills gap that you read about a lot… The Jobs Outlook 2020 report issued last year indicated that 9 out of 10 of the well-paying jobs in our region require some education or training after high school. The sad fact is that only 50% of our regional workers have any training or education after high school. This is where PCW comes in. PCW is a regional partnership of over 150 partners who represent employers, chambers, funders, educators, community based organizations, etc. who are working to develop career pathways to help employers find the workers with the skills that they need. We are working in the health care, manufacturing, construction and now IT industries because our labor market studies indicate that is where the jobs are. We have aligned over $29 million to fund our work.
PCW and its partners focus on these items:
Since inception in 2008, PCW’s partners have trained over 6000 individuals who have earned over 5500 credentials. The training and credentials have helped 82% of the individuals to gain employment and 75% to retain employment for at least 12 months. While these are good results, we have a lot more to do.
As a member of the Leadership Council for the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, I also need to look at our work from the perspective of a gender lens. The recently published “Cliff Effect” study conducted by the Women’s Fund highlights the challenges that women, especially single mothers, face as they move up their career ladders and lose supportive services as they increase their wage earnings. So, as we work to develop career pathways, we cannot only look at training classes. We need to look at all of the needs the participants have as they progress along their pathways. Much more to come on this in future blogs.
In future blogs, I will discuss the development of our Talent Pipeline, i.e., the entire supply chain of preparing and providing skilled workers to our regional employers. Sean Kelley has just joined the PCW team as the Talent Pipeline Director and he will be working closely with the K-12 schools and employers to increase and improve the career exploration experiences that students have, and provide professional development opportunities for teachers, to enable our youth to make informed educational and career decisions. This is especially important for girls and minorities who are greatly underrepresented in many of the STEM careers that are available in our region.
I will also talk about how our local workforce development effort creates systemic change in our community and delivers real value to employers. For our region to move ahead, we need a vibrant economy and a skilled workforce. Keep reading to learn how our work is progressing!