Industry-Based Workforce Planning and Analysis
Workforce planning is needed by industry leaders, who can use the results to target their recruitment efforts and attract new workforce to these industries. Educational institutions need workforce projections to assess potential demand for their programs and tailor new programs to the needs of the market. Some workforce analyses focus only on net new positions, but the need for replacement workers is often just as important. In some cases, the replacement need can create significant worker demand in occupations with a declining total number of positions.
A major state-level initiative was designed to align the offerings of educational institutions in Ohio with the skills needs of employers. Bill LaFayette, Ph.D., served as designated labor market analyst for the initiative in Central Ohio, and analyzed national and regional labor market information to identify growth occupations for the healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics and distribution sectors. Bill then collaborated with industry and educational leaders in each of these sectors to identify priority skills needs. The participation of industry leaders in this process helped to verify the analysis, but it also identified several key occupational needs that were not revealed by the data. The lesson is that economic data are inherently limited and must be checked against realities on the ground. Any analysis that fails to do this is incomplete.
More recent work has focused on skills needs and growth in the Central Ohio information technology workforce, and long-term occupational demand by the statewide insurance industry.
Economic and Workforce Analysis Supporting Economic Development
Detailed economic, industry, and workforce analyses are necessary to support corporate attraction and retention efforts. The results of this analysis are used to communicate the strengths of the region to decision-makers within the subject organizations. An equally important part of this work is using it to help the local economic development officials working on the projects understand their region’s project-specific strengths and weaknesses relative to competitor regions, and helping them formulate strategies to communicate the strengths and address the weaknesses – thereby enhancing their region’s competitiveness.
A large company with a major operation in Columbus was considering moving it out of state based on faulty workforce analysis and projections. Correct and honest analysis of the workforce size, composition, growth, and educational attainment showed not only that the Columbus area was equipped to meet the company’s current and future workforce needs, but that the other regions under consideration could do so less successfully than could Columbus. This analysis played a role in helping the company make the decision not to relocate.
A retail chain was evaluating Columbus and several competitive regions as a new location for a key distribution facility. The analysis in this case not only compared the distribution-specific workforce size and wage levels of each of the regions but also examined the location of the company’s other distribution facilities and retail outlets. In this case, Columbus was able to make a compelling case and attract the facility. In other similar cases, other regions under consideration have been more advantageous. Having this information helps economic developers determine the likelihood of success and thus the amount of scarce resources to commit to the attraction effort.
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) evaluations are especially complex because they are focused on a national-level analysis of the facility’s role in supporting military readiness. Understanding this role requires specialized knowledge. A major Columbus Defense Logistics Agency operation, a Defense Finance and Accounting Service operation and a variety of smaller operations – and their 6,100 jobs – were at risk in the 2004-2005 BRAC round. A specialized consultant was hired to advise on the BRAC process and criteria, but a detailed workforce analysis was used to communicate the strengths of the Columbus workforce. A second workforce analysis was needed to help plan for the attraction of workers to the hundreds of new jobs, mostly in accounting, that DoD assigned to the Columbus facility.
Community-Level Economic Analyses
The analysis of a localized economy may help a municipal government understand and project its tax revenues. It may help a social service agency project the demand for its services by understanding the demographics of the local population. Analyses are also necessary to help a business understand its customer base, a developer assess the potential demand for an apartment complex, or a rural employer decide where to advertise for new employees. Employment data are readily available for most counties, but generally not for municipalities. ZIP code data can be used to approximate the municipality, however.
Bill LaFayette has completed dozens of community-level analyses over the past decade. The primary clients have been city councils, municipal economic development departments, chambers of commerce, and companies. Most of these to date have been within Central Ohio, but one major project was completed for Clark County in Western Ohio. A comprehensive study for the Walton County Chamber, which represents a rural, resort area in the Florida Panhandle, outlined economic and workforce strengths and weaknesses. The report also included recommended actions allowing community leaders to leverage opportunities and address threats.
Economic Impact Analyses
The impact of a company, activity, or project on the economy of its region includes both its own contribution to regional output and employment and the contributions of its suppliers and employers. An economic impact model is used to measure these impacts. Regionomics customarily uses the Regional Impact Modeling System (RIMS II) from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis based on its ease of use, transparency, and relatively low cost. These studies serve a wide variety of purposes and the design of each one is unique based the focus of the assessment, data availability, and client budget. The design phase is critical because only those expenditures that impact the local region can be included. We will work with you to ensure that these expenditures are properly identified and measured.
Bill LaFayette has conducted a wide variety of economic impact studies over the years. Examples include the impact of expenditures supported by the City of Columbus bond packages of 2004 and 2008, the operations and construction projects of Columbus Museum of Art, the operations of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, service expansion by the Central Ohio Transit Authority, employment growth of the Ohio State University Medical Center, Grange Insurance’s corporate headquarters expansion, proposed air service between Columbus and Europe, Columbus Public Schools’ building campaign, and the reconstruction of a major freeway interchange.
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