In the Community

Business, civic and education leaders gather to discuss local labor shortage and solutions

Hampton Roads employers, business leaders and educators have joined forces to tackle the region’s unprecedented labor shortage.

On Tuesday, June 25 at the Chesapeake Conference Center, more than 300 people gathered for a business forum, the 2019 Talent Alignment Strategy.

Through a special presentation and panel discussion, they learned how educational and career development programs are critical to attracting and retaining businesses in the region. Strong businesses impact the entire local economy and help improve the quality of life for residents.

The event was the result of a recent workforce analysis report, commissioned by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and a host of business partners. Shared at the event, the report explains the challenges today’s workers, employers and industry leaders must address in order to expand business and promote economic development.

For example, in the past five years, more than 30,000 jobs have been added to the region, but the working age population has only increased by 9,600 people. The report identified this statistic as one indication of the regional labor shortage.

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation has been engaged in workforce and regional economic development since Deborah DiCroce became President and CEO.

“For us, the drive has been our growing concern about the region’s struggling economy and its impact on our most vulnerable citizens,” – Deborah DiCroce

The panelists included:

  • Dr. Larry “Chip” Filer, Associate Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Old Dominion University
  • Dr. Johnny Garcia, Chief Executive Officer, SimIS Inc.
  • Dr. Daniel Lufkin, President, Paul D. Camp Community College
  • Casey M. Roberts, Executive Director, New Horizons Regional Education Centers
  • Steven Wright, Director of Economic Development, City of Chesapeake
  • Chris Engle (moderator), Principal, Avalanche Consulting

All agreed on the importance of getting more laborers into the workforce.

Johnny Garcia, President and CEO of SimIS Inc., a modeling and simulation firm, said that engaging military veterans to re-enter the workforce can help with local labor shortage. Garcia said he hires veterans because they come with a lot of capabilities and are loyal.

“They go above and beyond,” he said.

Steven Wright, the Economic Development Director for the City of Chespake said employers should engage the public school system and inform students and school staff about career opportunities that are readily available after high school.

In discussing the talent alignment strategy, all the panelists acknowledged a need for more collaboration in the region and greater awareness.

To learn more about the steps business, civic and school leaders can to take to address this problem, read through the study and strategy reports.

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