Friday, October 03, 2008

Labor Mobility Geography

Via Advance Northeast Ohio, another article about the ironic talent shortage in the struggling Rust Belt:

With unemployment rates at the highest levels that this region has seen for quite some time, it is hard to understand why more people aren't seeking out the education and training required to fill so many vacant and available jobs. On average, advanced manufacturing jobs pay $54,000 a year.

There are literally thousands of open manufacturing jobs in Northeast Ohio including plenty in Cuyahoga County, said Judith Crocker, director of education and training at MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network. The educational requirements for these jobs range from short-term skilled certifications to advanced degrees.

"The problem is the gap between the skills of the job seekers and the skills that are required by the employers. Today's manufacturers also expect workers to be cross-trained," Crocker said.

Say the region does nothing to address the above demand for labor and the shortage becomes a full blow crisis. How do the companies facing the crunch deal with the problem? One approach is to raise the salary offering. The other solution is to move where the properly skilled labor is more plentiful. Outside of Shangri-La, where is that place located?

I see an opportunity for a clever talent attraction program. Target parts of the country that have a disproportionate amount of young people. Offer them subsidized training and moving expenses with a job at the end of the program. Partner with eager companies to cover costs and, perhaps, defer tuition reimbursement dependent on the successful completion of a few years at the business involved in the program.

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