How to Align Education and Economic Development

February 25, 2013

By Amy Holloway

Employers frequently state that access to talent is their most important site selection factor. Rapid changes in technology, scientific discovery, global economics and business strategy require regions to have an educational ecosystem in place that ensures worker availability and skill sets keep pace with business needs.

There is a direct correlation between the communities that align workforce development with economic development and success expanding and attracting businesses. Companies want to be ensured that the skills produced by a local education system match their occupational needs. Alignment starts by agreeing to a shared set of target industries.

Avalanche Consulting and its partner, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), have created a proven process for alignment.  We begin by inventorying all K-12, technical, and college / university programs and the throughput of each. In parallel, we identify the skills needs and projected job growth of each target industry. By comparing education throughput with projected skills needs, we pinpoint both gaps in the current system as well as areas of overproduction. (Overproduction in certain fields can become a top selling point for a community, as companies are drawn to the well of talent.)

As complex as our alignment studies are, the process does not take place in an analytical vacuum. We bring together top leaders from education and economic development organizations so that they are prepared to act on the results. Changing curricula and programming to address target industry needs can be likened to turning a cargo ship, but it is worth it.

Our most recent alignment study clients include the Centralina Council of Governments headquartered in Charlotte USA; Miami-Dade County’s Beacon Council; and the JAXUSA Partnership, First Coast Workforce Development and the Northeast Florida Regional Council. We predict their economies will flourish even more in the future as their talent pipelines expand to meet industry need.

To learn more about alignment and to hear the JAXUSA Partnership’s perspective, participate in our free webinar on March 1st at 1:30 pm CT.  Click here to register.  The webinar is hosted by CAEL and CEOs for Cities.