Closing the Skills Gap

Team NEO Report Sparks Regional Conversation to Address Talent Needs

Earlier this year, Team NEO released a report titled “Aligning Opportunities in Northeast Ohio: A Resource to Aid in Addressing the Demand and Supply Imbalance in the Region’s Workforce.” The research was funded by the Cleveland Foundation and Sherwin-Williams Company.

By taking an in-depth look at labor force trends and job demand, the report showed that there is a significant gap between employer demand and the types of degrees, certificate and other credentials being offered throughout the region. By 2020, a projected 65 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary credential, meaning that the gap will continue to widen if nothing is done to change the trajectory.

Northeast Ohio Talent Demand

While the Aligning Opportunities report focused on Northeast Ohio, the challenges identified are not exclusive to our region. “According to the Department of Labor, more than 6.5 million jobs remain unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the necessary skills” (City Journal). Progressively, we are seeing a surge in what many are calling “new collar” jobs, or roles that prioritize capabilities over credentials and may not require a traditional four-year degree. “With nearly 16 million new collar jobs to be added in the U.S. by 2024,” colleges and universities are having to re-think how to properly prepare and educate students for future opportunities (CNBC).

While much has been written about the U.S. skills gap, Team NEO’s Aligning Opportunities report has served as a catalyst to start enacting change in Northeast Ohio. A primary objective of the research is to provide a tool that assists secondary and postsecondary educational institutions across Northeast Ohio in re-evaluating professional and technical education and training programs. Since the report’s release in May, it has been shared with dozens of local colleges and universities and spurred important conversations for future change.

In August, the Plain Dealer announced a new series titled “Pathways to Prosperity” that draws heavily on Team NEO’s report. The series looks at ways schools, businesses and organizations are or aren’t preparing students to make a living wage in today’s regional economy. Below are links to the stories released as part of the series thus far:

While the talent skills gap is a national issue with no silver bullet solution, progress is being made in Northeast Ohio to address this issue head on. Through collaboration among higher education institutions, the business community, primary educators, and more, the goal is to change Northeast Ohio’s trajectory and build a talent pipeline to support future economic growth. Change may not come over night, but the region is taking important steps that will have an impact over time.