In 2016, Workforce Alliance sought to gather insights into the information technology, manufacturing, and health care industries in order to determine how they can offer the most useful and relevant support to area employers and workers. They hired CERC to conduct industry stakeholder focus groups. The purpose was to collect qualitative input from employers on questions such as the most pressing workforce issues facing the region, the role of workforce development in the businesses’ operations, the skills necessary for employment in those industries, and how the Workforce Alliance can support the industries’ workforce development. Employers from across the Workforce Alliance’s service area attended the focus groups and gave detailed feedback on their concerns about workforce development in their industries and suggested avenues for the Workforce Alliance to pursue.
In 2017, the Workforce Alliance broadened their areas of industry research, and looked again to CERC for assistance. As part of the work, CERC identified companies from the transportation and logistics industries to invite to participate in the focus groups. CERC also developed a list of key discussion questions to help guide the conversation and gather information on the concerns and needs of employers in the transportation and logistics industries. CERC staff led the focus group discussions, recorded the participants’ input, and are providing a report summarizing the key findings and implications, as well as an overview of the conversations and summarize any implications or suggestions for the Workforce Alliance. The key findings from these analyses will enable them to develop a plan for determining the best investments for workforce training resources, given the changing nature of the industries.
In addition, CERC is currently partnering with Monster Government Solutions and Workforce Alliance to develop sector snapshots of priority industries and occupations, with usable information for job seekers to get information they need on the changing industries and training needs.
CERC has enjoyed a lengthy working relationship with Workforce Alliance. For instance, CERC utilized industry data from the Connecticut Department of Labor to better understand job and occupation projections, career ladders and wage trends between 2005 and 2009 to seek a detailed analysis of the labor market for the South Central Workforce Investment Area (WIA) region. For current estimates CERC partnered with Monster Government Solutions to analyze online job posting data at the national level and in the South Central WIA. CERC also gathered and analyzed demographic information on the municipalities that compose the South Central WIA to depict the current and changing demographic composition of the workforce. Finally, the Alliance was looking for research and information on the characteristics and composition of the unemployed in the region. Looking at the data over time showed how the latest economic recession had affected the number of unemployed, which industries and benefits paid. CERC provided the Alliance with a full technical report and presented the findings to both the Workforce Alliance Chief Elected Officials Executive Committee and Board of Directors. When it was time for the Workforce Alliance to revise its strategic plan in 2012, CERC developed and completed it for them – which focused on occupations in addition to industries and general employability skills.