The Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board (LTWDB) hosted its first annual Workforce Summit on June 18, convening employers and workforce stakeholders from throughout the region and beyond to further develop plans for increasing labor participation in the eight-county region.
A video recap of the event is available here.
At the summit, held at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College’s main campus, the board’s Workforce Crisis Task Force presented efforts underway to bring more people into the workforce. For complex reasons, about 40 percent of working age adults in the region are not working nor looking for work.
“If we do our jobs well, we’ll create new pathways into the workforce,” said LTWDB member Jim Rachlin. “In turn, we help employers find and retain the talent they need, attract more business to our region and promote a healthy economy.”
Task force members presented the work of three subcommittees: Unlock Local Potential, Grow Business Investment and Remove Obstacles.
The Unlock Local Potential subcommittee — with school districts from every county in the region engaged — is focused on connecting young talent with local employers through internships and other work-based learning and thereby increasing the number of youth who decide the Lincoln Trail region is where they want to live and work.
The Grow Business Investment subcommittee is supporting employer efforts to help disconnected workers find and retain employment, and has focused on increasing childcare options.
The Removing Obstacles subcommittee has identified three priorities — transportation, community engagement in the new Medicaid Waiver program, and developing a legislative policy recommendation that would help remove barriers.
At the summit, facilitated by the LTWDB’s strategic planning partner Strategy Matters, participants also discussed the Cliff Effect — when an increase in wages prompts the cut-off of a public benefit, leaving the worker worse off financially.
“When working harder or working longer doesn’t make economic sense for people, our employers are at a huge disadvantage as they try to recruit new workers, promote their existing workers or offer full-time opportunities to part-time workers,” said Liz O’Connor, of Strategy Matters.
With more than 70 employers, educators and other community leaders in attendance, the summit also was an opportunity for participants to map the next steps to increase labor participation in the region. Specific plans will be developed for mitigating the Cliff Effect, increasing work-based learning opportunities, increasing employer collaboration in workforce development and increasing workers’ access to childcare.
“We really appreciate the efforts of the task force and the support of the employers, educators, non-profits and others who are committed to getting people back in the workforce,” said LTWDB chairman, state Rep. Dean Schamore. “The Workforce Development Board is committed to integrating efforts across the region that address the complex issues behind low labor participation and to promoting economic growth.”
Employers and all organizations with a stake in workforce development are invited to join the Workforce Crisis Task Force’s efforts. For more information, contact Sherry L. Johnson, Associate Director at Lincoln Trail Area Development District, at 270-769-2393 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To keep up with the task force’s work, subscribe to its newsletter by emailing email@example.com.