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Ohio Rises to Meet a Changing, Challenging Talent Landscape

Ohio has customized, adaptable workforce development programs to help companies find, train, and hire the talent they need. Always.

Mon Jan 04 2021
A woman looking into the distance and smiling

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment rates skyrocketed and companies were forced to shift how their employees worked almost overnight. Even before the crisis, businesses were already facing disruptions at the hands of technology and changes in business culture.

In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14% of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 due to industry shifts. Executives continue to recognize the rising need to evolve their workforce, either presently or in the future, yet the path from challenge to solution is not clear.

Public and private entities from economic development, business, education, and government across Ohio quickly came together to create programs and services designed for, and in partnership with, companies.

These initiatives are grounded in industry and address pressing challenges. They’re also adaptable and enduring. On a case-by-case basis, they are designed to address the unique needs of companies. And they have withstood the mass economic disruption caused by the pandemic.

Through Ohio’s talent initiatives, companies can find, attract, hire, and train talent, in addition to upskilling and reskilling existing talent both in and out of their organizations.

Partnering with Businesses

Ohio has the seventh-largest population in the U.S. and is ranked among the top 10 states in the nation for competitive labor environment and leading workforce development programs.

Over the last decade (2010 – 2020) Ohio has risen in the ranks as a best state for business due to its favorable business climate, geographic location, and increasingly diverse economy.

But ask most executives why they choose Ohio, and they’ll tell you it is due to Ohio’s skilled and educated workforce who possess and actively display the proverbial Midwest work ethic: the ingenuity to creatively solve problems and the perseverance to see that solution implemented.

Business leaders know that connecting qualified workers with open roles is not always a straight shot. Moreover, not all companies have the HR and marketing resources to find the talent they need.

One of Ohio’s strongest assets is JobsOhio, Ohio’s unique, independently funded private nonprofit economic development corporation. JobsOhio is the go-to source for companies coming to and growing in Ohio. Unlike other economic development entities, JobsOhio’s private source of funding allows it to be swifter with solutions.

When it comes to issues such as sudden or evolving workforce demands, JobsOhio’s unique model works in the business community’s favor.

JobsOhio launched JobsOhio Talent Acquisition Services (TAS), a service-based incentive that leverages Ohio’s economic development expertise to help a company find, hire, and train talent, executed in partnership with the company.

Through TAS, an expert workforce development team works with companies to identify a company’s talent obstacles and build sustainable talent strategies in areas of talent marketing and attraction, pre-screening and assessments, and training.

TAS has proven durability, helping companies reach their hiring goals despite the pandemic. Olive, a healthcare-focused artificial intelligence and process automation company, is one such example.

Olive’s CEO was keen on establishing and growing Olive in Columbus, Ohio, because of the access to top talent, the emerging startup ecosystem, and proximity to world-class universities and Fortune 500 employers.

By 2020, a rapid demand for Olive’s product drove an urgent need for the company to more than double its existing headcount, specifically requiring talent with skill sets that could handle Olive’s unique product offering. Simultaneously, Olive contemplated shifting to remote operations in response to changes in business culture, hastened by the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Olive realized that it needed help to execute an aggressive strategy to support the budget required to recruit, vet, market, and fill the positions.

“We are a fast-moving, high-growth startup with a lot of competing priorities,” said Brian Rutkowski, chief talent officer for Olive. “We needed a hands-on partner that could operate as an extension of our talent attraction team.”

The JobsOhio TAS program became that solution.

JobsOhio TAS prepared a talent plan that consisted of marketing and attraction, including elements such as creative development, job board campaigns, and digital advertising, as well as a customized training program. For Olive, this multi-faceted, unique approach provided the support they needed to achieve their workforce goals, despite the pandemic.

“The talent we require for our healthcare solutions isn’t easy to find, but the TAS program has enabled us to keep up with our talent demands, while saving our company time and capital,” said Rutkowski. “We’ve been able to focus on our rapid expansion and trust that our marketing and recruiting needs are in capable hands with JobsOhio. In the last seven months, we’ve more than doubled our team. We’re incredibly happy with the results.”

Filling Positions Through the Pandemic

But not every company has been able to adapt as easily as Olive. The corona-virus pandemic accelerated the need for businesses to adapt their workforce to changes in needed skills. Moreover, the pandemic resulted in massive workforce displacement, exposing uncertainties in various career paths.

Ohioans needed job stability. There was an opportunity to help employers find the workers with the skillsets they need and equip more Ohioans with the skills that employers desire.

Once again, the public, private, and nonprofit spectrum across Ohio united to develop a solution.

Ohio launched Ohio To Work, a pilot initiative aimed at strengthening the bridge between employers, government, nonprofits, and training providers to deliver employment services to displaced and at-risk job seekers, connecting them to accelerated training opportunities, virtual career fairs, and jobs with companies that need to hire even during the pandemic.

Ohio To Work

“Ohio’s economy continues to improve, but many people attempting to re-enter the workforce need help navigating their way to a good job,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted, who leads the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation. “Ohio To Work helps people find a career and provides employers a competitive workforce—everyone wins.”

“Ohio To Work brings workforce resources together in a unique way – we believe it’s the most innovative, holistic approach of its kind in the nation and it’s what Ohioans need and deserve now, more than ever,” said JobsOhio President and CEO, J.P. Nauseef. “The goal is not a short-term job solution but a sustainable career with long-term job opportunities. It’s another example of how Ohioans come together in times of need.”

As companies adjust their resources to focus on operational improvements and compliance with social distancing guidelines, virtual career fairs are also being offered through Ohio To Work to connect employers with job seekers.

These career fairs allow Ohio companies in smaller industries to take part in virtual information sharing and networking to hire skilled workers, all while adhering to current health and social distancing best practices. They are a safe way for companies to connect with talent in this unprecedented time.

Currently, the pilot program is running in Northeast Ohio’s Cuyahoga county. Following the pilot, the initiative will be adjusted to ensure that it meets current employer needs and then be scaled across the state.

Preparing Ohio’s Companies for the Future

According to CRBE’s 2020 Scoring Tech Talent report, tech talent is one of the most resilient professions in any economic downturn and this has been particularly clear during the pandemic. The resulting disruptions highlight a critical, ongoing need for technology in business for both day-to-day operations as well as a company’s overall competitiveness.

That’s why Ohio is taking steps to attract out-of-state, in-demand talent to opportunities in Ohio.

The pandemic is encouraging a lot of talent to turn away from the expensive coasts. Not only are they becoming tired of the cost of living, they are also realizing that the coasts aren’t the only places where they have exciting job opportunities. There are other areas of the country that are more cost-effective and offer them long-term careers, work-life balance, and affordability. Ohio is capturing the attention of that talent.

Find Your Ohio posts open positions in in-demand job categories and then markets those positions to candidates across the U.S.

The advantage this gives Ohio companies, especially as many consider shifting to remote work, is that they have access to the best candidates in Ohio as well as those across the nation who have interest in living and working outside of the coasts.

Since its start in March 2020, Find Your Ohio has driven hundreds of qualified applicants into the recruiting platform for in-demand job consideration.

In Ohio, companies have, and will continue to enjoy, an enhanced, powerful suite of talent solutions that are focused on their direct needs, both for immediate needs and for the long-term.

Beyond the pandemic, Ohio’s robust network of partners aims to make Ohio a place where companies can find, train, hire, and retain the skilled, qualified talent they need to be successful, no matter how the world changes.

Originally published in Site Selection Magazine.

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