Cherry's Viewpoint: Meeting workers where they are

This text discusses the need for businesses to invest in tools to create an equitable talent pipeline.

Cherry's Viewpoint: Meeting workers where they are

The news was bleak. Allegheny County has lost over 12,000 people from 2021 to 2022. Pittsburgh Works Together reports that more than 50,000 job losses have occurred between 2017 and 2020, which is five times as many jobs lost than in any other county of the state. We are facing a complex situation, but we can find solutions with the help of collaboration, innovative thinking, and many people.

Allegheny County will require a strong plan and policies to be in place. State leaders must make policy changes to make Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and the surrounding region attractive for outside investment. We must also provide resources and capital to small businesses and Black-owned companies to grow and thrive.

Will we have enough workers for these positions? In February 2023 there were 1.4 jobs posted for each unemployed worker. The people of our region are its greatest asset. Employers should invest in their region's future and grow their talent pipeline by meeting with workers and training them.

Currently, more than 42,000 job listings are available online. These jobs are mostly for people with a higher education but not a four-year college degree. Although job postings are back to their pre-pandemic level, the overall employment in the Pittsburgh MSA has decreased by 2.4%.

The number of layoffs is nearing historic lows, but the number of workers churning remains high. The available jobs are a clear call to employers to work with us. We can overcome this obstacle by meeting workers where they are, and recognising that everyone has different needs. We have the tools to create a talent pipeline that is fair, but businesses must also take responsibility for growing their own workforce.

Partner4Work has scaled up its services and outreach in order to address these labor challenges. We partner with over 100 organizations in Allegheny County. These include educators, building trades, unions and employers. We provide employers with data and marketing strategies to help them create and market the right jobs for the right people. We also help to develop the next generation of workers by offering dual enrollment programs, apprenticeships and internships, which allow people to earn while they learn.

We must invest in people who live here, especially as older workers retire. We must work together to provide opportunities for students, underemployed and unemployed workers, as well as those who have left the workforce. We have the means to help these groups. We can work together with innovative solutions to eliminate systemic barriers that prevent people from finding employment. Let's partner effectively with the K-12 system in the region to help young people understand what they can become. Let's think creatively to build a world class workforce ecosystem in greater Pittsburgh.

Let's get started.