A reorientation of economic development is necessary. Via Burgh Diaspora, I advocate for serving workforce interests that can benefit the entire region. Again, actionable models are sparse. The opposite is true on the international scale. From The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Corporations are trying to find out what affects students’ employment choices in different countries. Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer with headquarters in Toulouse, France, has found in its surveys that “training and development opportunities” are particularly important to students in Spain, while “work-life balance” is important to German students, and job security is important to students in India.
That's the mirror image of what I observe going on in Pittsburgh and other Rust Belt cities. Workforce development is finding out regional talent needs and delivering employees to local companies. When workers are dear, as they are in demographically challenged communities and countries, this is the wrong policy.
The goal should be to push students towards global talent shortages. Education professionals must be aware of global labor market conditions. I don't see the value in framing the problem in regional terms.
Increasingly, a workforce with the right kind of skills attracts major employers. But the only way to deepen the talent pool is to export graduates to the established economic cluster. That's the Rust Belt advantage and Pittsburgh is cashing in on it.