Friday, December 26, 2008

30,000 Jobs Available in Pittsburgh

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development has finally launched its talent initiative. Perhaps I buried the lede in my post about China's quest to reclaim a few choice expatriates from the States. No matter because Bill Toland more than picks up my slack in his latest Diaspora Report:

"This is not a boomerang initiative," says DeWitt Peart, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. The Alliance, part of the Allegheny Conference, is trying to bend the ears of that fugitive talent via, a new jobs portal that lists 30,000 Pittsburgh-area positions. ...

... "This is a talent initiative," Mr. Peart said. "We need to find a way to fill the talent pipeline in this region ... if someone is looking to relocate, we think Pittsburgh is better off than a lot of other regions."

Why is the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance so adamant in its denial of launching a boomerang initiative? Mr. Toland makes a compelling case that Mr. Peart is playing fast and loose with the facts. The target of the "talent initiative" is the Baltimore/DC area. Granted that a great deal of Pittsburgh's in-migration comes from this region, but there is likely a substantial number of returnees in that flow.

I'd have to see more of the marketing campaign in order to offer a salient critique. I don't know the goals of the talent initiative. However, there are three demographics that could "fill the talent pipeline":

1) Urban professionals looking to start a family or with a young family. This group typically is looking at a move from the city to the suburbs.

2) College graduates are an important group. I'd bet that Mr. Peart is satisfied with the production of local colleges and universities. This talent initiative doesn't appear to be targetting this group.

3) Foreign born talent, particularly those already residing in the United States, is highly geographically mobile. Unfortunately, there is no indication that the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance is interested in attracting high-skilled immigrants.

Group #1, loosely defined, appears to be on Pittsburgh's radar. Given the evidence available to me, I predict the initiative will fail. However, I suspect that the goal isn't to "fill the talent pipeline" with people for the 30,000 available jobs. Given how Mr. Toland frames his introdution to this Diaspora story, he may share my suspicion. I'm certain that a powerful job aggregator won't spark an influx of workers. Locals will benefit the most from this one-stop job hunt.

From the efforts of Alberta or North Dakota, I've learned how hard it is to attract labor from outside of the region. But Pittsburgh isn't that desperate for talent. The latest from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance better be a part of a larger picture. Is the plan available for public consumption? I'd like to read it.

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