Last month, Charlotte Works’ board of directors adopted a new strategic plan to continue the transformation started back in 2011. The three major issues our new plan addresses are economic mobility, system capacity-building and labor market intelligence.
As employers struggle to find skilled workers, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a great many of our neighbors are being left behind, often lacking the skills or education necessary for the jobs of tomorrow. Even worse, many of the children born into poverty in our community are finding themselves locked out of the American dream with little or no hope of moving up the income ladder.
Although we cannot solve this problem by ourselves, we can facilitate the build-out of a data-driven system that gives us better and more accurate information from employers about the type of jobs and skills necessary to gain employment in high-demand sectors.
We must also step up our partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Central Piedmont Community College, UNC Charlotte and other post-secondary institutions to align what employers tell us they need with the of all ages adults to navigate their way into these high-demand careers.
But tackling this problem in Mecklenburg County alone will not solve the overall challenge. For Charlotte to continue to attract and grow high-quality jobs, we need to take a truly regional approach in our workforce-planning efforts. Employers don’t search for good employees by city or county boundaries: they look for the best talent across an entire region. This means that how we work together and the way we present our services to employers across our region must change.
Finally, we must have an open and honest conversation with our employer community to find new and consistent ways to engage them with our public education system. We need employers to open their doors to tours, job-shadowing and internships – and we need them to view these opportunities not as charity, but as a business imperative.
The next five years will be critical to our efforts to build a world-class workforce system that will allow our region to offer opportunity to all our neighbors. We look forward to working with you to meet these challenges.
Review our 2015 Strategic Plan – FINAL.