Fifth Annual Team NEO Aligning Opportunities Report

Data-driven report helps region be more competitive in talent

The fifth annual Aligning Opportunities report, prepared by Team NEO, reveals the misalignment of workforce and job opportunities offering family-sustaining wages in growing, high-potential industries. The report, produced in partnership with Delta Dental and with generous support from PNC, MAGNET, Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio Region, Alliance Solutions Group, and Deaconess Foundation was released today during an event at the Music Box Supper Club.

While the 2021 Aligning Opportunities report focuses on occupations in three high-growth industries — computer and IT, health care and manufacturing — it also provides fresh insights into emerging high-potential careers and features stories from companies that are adapting their talent attraction and retention strategies with creative and innovative solutions.

The report provides a holistic landscape of job openings compared to the type and number of credentials awarded here, and follows two supplemental talent reports developed by Team NEO and released earlier this year: Lost Opportunities, which examines gender inequities in our region’s talent pool and the significant impacts that the pandemic had on working women, and Misaligned Opportunities, a deep dive into how racial inequity impacts Northeast Ohio’s talent pipeline.

Key highlights of the 2021 Aligning Opportunities report include:

  • Education Alignment
    • By 2025, 65% of Ohio’s workforce will need to have a 2- or 4-year degree, or certified marketable skill. Today, Northeast Ohio falls short of this mark, although postsecondary credentials have grown from 33% to 37% in the Northeast Ohio Region over the past five years.
    • Further adding to this misalignment is the 2001-2019 population drop of 173,000 and labor force drop of 156,000.
  • Graduation Retention
    • Northeast Ohio retains less than 47% of its graduates, translating to 14,608 graduates annually. Growing retention to 57% would have an impact of:
      • 445 more health care BA+ grads
      • 162 more IT BA+ grads
      • 263 more architecture & engineering BA+ grads
      • 3,130 more total BA+ grads
  • Demand-Supply Alignment
    • Of 18 key occupation categories studied, four met the credentials awarded to meet the needs of in-demand jobs. Team NEO first reported this data in 2018, when there were three in alignment; 2020’s report indicated no occupations being in alignment.
  • Top In-Demand Careers
    • Health care, manufacturing and IT remain the top in-demand careers
      • Manufacturing Careers: top occupations include robotics, automation technician, CNC machinist and 3D printing technicians
        • 3,838 credentials were awarded in 2019, 4,300 entry-level jobs went unfilled, median annual salary is $41,412.
      • IT Careers: top occupations include cybersecurity specialists, artificial intelligence engineer, and data scientist
        • 2,717 credentials were awarded in 2019, 2,385 entry-level jobs went unfilled, median annual salary is $81,604
      • Health Care Careers: top occupations include telehealth nurse, lab technician, and respiratory therapist
        • 14,781 credentials were awarded in 2019, 7,842 entry-level jobs went unfilled, median annual salary is $61,079

Team NEO CEO Bill Koehler shared his reflections on five years into Aligning Opportunities: “We are pleased to provide insights that our region’s education, talent and workforce ecosystem leverage to help bridge the talent gap. We must continue to take advantage of Northeast Ohio’s generational opportunity to grow high-potential industries that offer family-sustaining wages as we emerge from the pandemic. By deepening and broadening our talent pools, we can create a more vibrant economy, one where our businesses and region are more competitive and where all Northeast Ohioans have an opportunity to participate in the prosperity we create together.” 

About Team NEO

Team NEO is a private, nonprofit economic development organization accelerating business growth and job creation throughout the 18 counties of the Northeast Ohio Region. As the designated JobsOhio Network Partner, we align and amplify local economic development efforts in the region’s 18 counties; we conduct research and data analysis to inform local conversations and influence solutions; we market the Northeast Ohio Region; and we work to increase access to jobs, education and training for the region’s 4.3 million people. We do this to build a more vibrant regional economy –  one that is more talented, equitable, competitive, innovative, resilient and prosperous. For more information, visit