4 people solving Workforce Crisis

3 Steps to Solving a Workforce Crisis

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May 15 @ 9:27 pm CDT

When Danny Hearn contacted XYZ University five years ago, two daunting issues loomed over industries throughout the region of Hickory, North Carolina: how to attract and engage Millennials, and how to solve for the aging workforce crisis and talent shortage. “Our number one business issue is attracting young people to manufacturing jobs. It’s at a crisis stage. We have 3,000 jobs that go unfilled every day. Most are really great manufacturing jobs that require smart, skilled people,” said Hearn, who is President and CEO of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce in Hickory, NC. Hearn had read Sarah Sladek’s book, The End of Membership As We Know It, and XYZ University’s report, America’s Aging Workforce Crisis.He invited Sladek to Hickory to present to area employers and Chamber of Commerce executives from throughout the southeast. At first, Hearn reported that some leaders were resistant to change, but as they implemented the strategies that XYZ University provided, the outcomes made a positive impact on their bottom lines. Specifically, Hearn shared his key learnings and developments as a result of XYZ University’s guidance. Lesson 1: Invite, engage and listen. XYZ University suggested that leaders bring young employees, members, volunteers, and leaders to the table, and requested their feedback on specific workforce and community initiatives. “At the Chamber, we conducted a young professionals survey that led to a successful strategy, ” Hearn explained. “For example, we discovered that the word ‘member’ didn’t resonate with young adults, and that our membership fee formula was outdated. As a result, the Chamber created a tiered structure for ‘Investors’ and ‘Shareholders’. If we hadn’t asked for their feedback, we never would have known we were alienating young people.” Lesson 2: Millennials do not engage for the sake of tradition, but because they want valuable, life-long learning experiences. Before the survey, the Chamber had launched a Young Professionals Group, and the leader of that group was a Baby Boomer, ex-officio, non-voting Board member. Sladek explained to Hearn this model of keeping young professionals at arms-length, under the guidance or someone else, would never work. Now, the Chamber has literally brought young professionals to the decision-making table; at least half of the Chamber’s Board members are now under the age of 40. In addition, the Chamber started engaging young professionals in the creation of…

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