This column was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, November 11, 2021.
When we say something is in the pipeline, it’s a way of saying something is in development or in process. Lately, it’s become the newest buzz phrase to be applied to our workforce, as in the “talent pipeline.” In today’s column, I’ll explain how this pipeline is similar to a crystal ball. And in keeping with the tool-related pipeline metaphor, I’ll also explain how a wrench has been thrown into our talent pipeline—and what we can do about it.
When we talk about the talent pipeline, what we are really doing is looking into the future to anticipate job trends, and then preparing our future workers by ensuring they’ll be developing those skills. It’s very much like looking into a crystal ball to see the future. Economic development professionals everywhere are attuned to industry trends within their regions, in order to help their specific industries survive and thrive with skilled workers.
That’s why the Alliance recently held an informative community workshop, “Adams County’s Talent Pipeline,” in partnership with the nonprofit South Central PA Workforce Investment Board (SCPaWorks) and Adams County Technical Institute (ACTI). You might remember ACTI was formerly called Adams County Tech Prep. This virtual session brought together industry leaders, school district counselors, and the business community.
Shawn Eckenrode of ACTI explained how he serves as the main point of contact—between Adams County businesses offering internship opportunities—and school district counselors representing their students’ interests. And the images of a pipeline and wrench are appropriate, because he mentioned that the average age of plumbers for example, is nearly 60. Are there enough young people being prepared with those skills, to slide into that much-needed profession as aging plumbers retire? That’s just one example of a need within Adams County’s talent pipeline.
In the workshop, we also learned about numerous programs—many of them under-utilized—designed to help the talent pipeline flow more smoothly.
Shauna Ventress talked about Equus Works’ youth programs, which actually pay young people who complete career assessments and placements!
Matt Carey spoke about Equus Works’ on-the-job training programs—and which industries have been identified as high priority: childcare, manufacturing, construction, IT, logistics and medical professions.
Dani Schaufert, representing Harrisburg University (HU), presented information on certification and internship programs. Sterile processing is one of those programs—which prepares workers with the skills needed to support the many medical industries that rely on sterilized tools. Also, HU has grant funding available for area youth, ages 14-24, to attend STEM exploration programs!
Tom Palisin of The Manufacturer’s Association, located in York, revealed many eye-opening statistics: Within South Central PA, fewer than 1% of all high school graduates are pursuing careers in skilled manufacturing. By 2029, the manufacturing skills gap could result in 13,000 open positions within our local manufacturing industry.
So what can we do today, to prepare our talent pipeline? Please watch the session, “Adams County’s Talent Pipeline” (linked here) to learn about all the opportunities, programs, grants and partnerships that exist to prepare youth, to help employers and employees. And please contact us to learn more! Meeting the challenges coming down our talent pipeline will require the entire Adams County community to wear the toolbelt together.
Robin Fitzpatrick is President of Adams Economic Alliance, which comprises three organizations: The Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), the Adams County Industrial Development Authority (ACIDA) and the Adams County General Authority (ACGA). For more information, see adamsalliance.org, or follow us on Twitter (@AdamsAlliance), Facebook (Facebook.com/AdamsAlliance) and LinkedIn (Adams Economic Alliance).