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Workforce Crisis: How Lancaster is Responding
June 2017

Hello.  And welcome to At the Center.

By all accounts, workforce is the biggest challenge facing the Lancaster County economy.

Be it through surveys, anecdotal evidence or flat-out facts, workforce concerns prove to be consistently top of mind with the vast majority of our local businesses. From lamenting the lack of “soft skills” (showing up on time; working effectively in teams; communication and problem solving) to the need for individuals with technical skills in STEM careers, to the strategies behind recruiting and retaining a qualified and engaged workforce, Lancaster County’s workforce challenges run the spectrum of job and industry needs.

Lancaster County is facing a workforce crisis and the Chamber along with our partners, employers and educators are working hard to get ahead of it.

For starters, our new building at 115 East King Street and new business model has set the stage for a renewed commitment to provide relevant professional development and training to the entire incumbent workforce of the County….in a space conducive to learning. From the long-popular New Managers Academy to some new offerings around Project Management, Creativity and Innovation, Public Speaking and Sales Training, opportunities exist to ensure your current workforce gets the training they need to succeed and progress at their job.

For those that can’t find the time to attend a class, however, the Chamber has you covered, as well. In a partnership with the Workforce Development Board and the Community Action Partnership, we are excited to launch a new, on-line skills training program entitled “Skill-Up Lancaster.” This on-line tool features more than 4,000 training modules and provides the opportunity for our local workforce to earn credentials where appropriate. The initiative also offers assessment tools that serve as a valuable benchmark for tracking employee growth and prospective employee skill sets.

Yet another tool we will be unveiling later this month is the RIGHT initiative, an acronym for (R) Research; (I) Investment; (G) Growth; (H) Hiring; and (T) Training. Beginning this month, every quarter we will send a survey to businesses representing the various sectors of our economy to assess the needs of the business community and identify how we –and other community partners-- can help those organizations by directing them to local resources for their research, investment, growth, hiring and training needs. Please be on the lookout for an email providing all the details.

Finally, to ensure employers are retaining and attracting a qualified workforce, the Chamber is currently collecting data for its annual Wage & Benefit Survey. This robust and relevant information, done in partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Business Group on Health for the healthcare section of this survey, enables employers to assess and evaluate where they stand among industry competitors. I encourage you all to take advantage of it, as the more companies that participate, the more rich the aggregate data becomes for all.

Rest assured, the above just scratches the surface on the Chamber’s programs and services underway to alleviate the workforce challenges that stand to threaten our economic success. The Chamber has a team of professionals addressing this important issue on a daily basis – starting with high school students, working collaboratively with the post-secondary educational institutions, all the way through supporting the incumbent workforce throughout their careers. And, know that many other organizations are also doing what they can to help address this issue, as well. So you can take some comfort in the fact that if you have a unique workforce need, there is likely help in the county to come to the rescue.

Working together, I am confident we can address this critical issue. Frankly, we have no choice!

Until next time, stay engaged, stay informed and stay with us, At the Center.

 

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