Let’s put data, information and analysis to work for West Michigan

Note: This is the fourth in a series of posts analyzing the nine key strategies cited in our 20/20 Vision Report.


In the journey to take the West Michigan talent system from good to great, we will not get there on enthusiasm alone.


Employers, educators and workforce leaders need access to high-quality, reliable and frequently updated information to ensure their efforts are aligned and headed in the right direction. That is the motivation behind the fourth strategy cited in our 20/20 Vision Report:


Strategy 4: Increase the quality and frequency of information about demand for jobs, aligning more education and training programs to careers.


In a knowledge-based economy, employers need talent with a growing array of education, skills, and competencies. These needs must be communicated with specificity and regularity to education and training providers.


This is what Talent 2025 provides through its regular West Michigan Talent Assessment & Outlook reports. You can find the sixth edition here. All of the underlying data is available for download.


These reports draw from a wide range of resources. They are refined with input from focus groups from industry sectors. The result is a collection of vital information and analysis about current and future talent needs of the region’s employers.


Putting information to work

This year the report expanded its analysis. Thanks to support from the Talent Innovation Network of West Michigan, we have added industry-specific demographic information and real-time demand trends by industry.


This will be followed by a series of industry-specific deep dive reports. The first of these will be published to our website on Friday, December 6th, and will focus on manufacturing. This is West Michigan’s largest sector for employment, highest-paying industry (on average), and the quickest industry to recover from the trough of the recession in 2009.


However, it’s also a sector where the job landscape has changed dramatically since 2001. Employer demands for high-skill jobs in manufacturing (those requiring an associate degree or beyond) have grown by 25.4%, compared to a decline of 13.1% for those jobs requiring only a high school diploma.


Historic change like this emphasizes the need for current, relevant data. Our objective is to provide high-quality information that supports the collaboration of employers, educators and workforce leaders. These reports are critical components of Talent 2025’s effort to catalyze and align the talent system in West Michigan.


In coming year, as part of our work supporting the Talent Innovation Network of West Michigan, Talent 2025 will partner with West Michigan Works! to produce analytical reports on hiring needs for each of the workforce agency’s high-demand Industry Talent Councils.


Like Talent 2025, West Michigan Works! recognizes the need for actionable talent demand data. The agency’s Hot Jobs! List provides information that job seekers can use to pursue a high-demand career – or to explore the training needed for those careers. The usefulness of this information is not limited to job seekers. Educational organizations such as Grand Rapids Community College can use this information to guide its skills training programs to provide programs that prepare job seekers for high-demand employment.


Communication fuels collaboration

We know West Michigan stakeholders are committed to collaborating. As one participant in the 20/20 Vision Report said:


“I know of no other talent system in the country where business, education, and nonprofits even attempt to communicate with each other the way they do in West Michigan.”


The leaders of our talent system have worked deliberately for years to improve communication and partnerships. They deserve support in these efforts by being able to access reliable and timely data about talent demand in the region.


This is how we ensure a match between talent demands and talent pools, and how we take West Michigan’s talent system from good to great.


Is there a specific set of data you think can help drive these efforts? Where do we need to improve in our data collection or reporting? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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