If employers in the Lehigh Valley want skilled workers, they may need to take on a bigger role in getting workers those skills.
Nancy Dischinat, executive director of Workforce Board Lehigh Valley gave that advice at the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber Economic Outlook luncheon.
“Recruitment should be aimed at school students,” Dischinat said. “Develop their skills and you earn their loyalty. Skill up your workforce and keep them on the job.”
With Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate at about 4% right now, she said there are plenty of jobs to go around.
Her organization is working to get those looking for jobs paired up with employers looking to hire.
She noted that at 4% the number of people out of work in the Lehigh Valley is around 14,000 – roughly the same number of jobs available in the region.
“There’s a job for every person in the Lehigh Valley. I’m not kidding,” she said.
She pointed to the new Interactive Workforce Data Dashboard on the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley’s website that is available to the public and can serve as a one-stop-shop for employers looking for workforce data to plan their recruitment and training needs.
Data presented by David Jan, a data scientist with the board, showed that training has become a larger issue, not just because of emerging skill requirements, but because less people are seeking a higher education on their own.
Over the last 10 years college enrollment has dropped significantly. In 2011 78% of all high school students were enrolling in college. In 2021 that was down to 67%.
He noted that decreasing enrollment in college may be a trend. He pointed to the recent executive order by Gov. Josh Shapiro that eliminated the requirement for a four-year degree for many state jobs.
And Dischinat reminded employers that there is help for businesses that need help finding workers.
“CareerLink is working as fast as they can to help meet companies’ workforce needs.”r