#RuralAmerica #EconomicDevelopment #jobs #employment
Rural areas want to boost their economy.
They want to attract companies/employers who can employ lots of people who are now out of work for a variety of reasons – not the least of which is where they live.
Kyle Wingfield, a columnist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, took on this issue, as it applies to rural Georgia, in an Aug. 27, 2017, column.
“There are a lot of different factors that affect the quality (of the workforce),” Wingfield quotes Amy Lancaster, director of workforce development for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. “The education system is a big piece of that … but the opioids (epidemic), criminal justice reform – all those things have a big impact, so it’s hard to limit or confine it to one issue or agency,” the quote continued.
Regarding the education system, Wingfield discussed the community college system with Lancaster. “The course offerings may not be aligned with local demand, at least not from the employer side,” Wingfield quotes her. In other words, what the employers want the students to learn is not what the students themselves want to take.
She told Wingfield that there are no incentives for colleges, either two-year or four-year, to offer what the employers really need students to learn.
Let’s break this down further. Rural areas, be they in Georgia or any other state, have a distinct disadvantage to urban areas in terms of attracting employers. It’s difficult to attract the type of talent employers seek because the workers they want to attract, usually young and fairly educated, don’t want to move to a rural area. They look for the multitude of life options urban areas provide in abundance. And those workers already living in rural areas may not be the type of workers Company X needs.
Secondly, though there is relatively high unemployment in rural areas, it doesn’t appear that people are willing to do what it takes to become more employable. In other words, if a company needs, say, welders, and people are not willing to take the necessary training to become a welder, there’s a mismatch between the supply of employable people and the demand for the needed skills.
From the worker’s perspective, he may think, “is it worth my time to get the extra training that Company X wants me to have, only to find that a year or two later, the employer demands something else – or needs to reduce staff — and I’m no longer needed?”
Many workers who thought they had secure jobs have lost them, so it’s easy to figure out why they would ask whether the extra training and effort would be worth it in the long run.
An example might be truck driving. Would a prospective new truck driver want to go through all the training that it might take, only to discover a few years later that his company will be going to driverless vehicles?
Welders may be in demand now, but will they be replaced by robots later?
It’s a tough position all around. But, if you are a prospective worker who is examining what to do with your life, you might want to think outside the box. There are plenty of ways out there to make a potentially sizeable income, without a W-2 job, if you are open to checking them out. To learn about one of the best, message me.
If you are an employer, consider that workers willing to be retrained for the skills you need now will want some assurance that they will be able to adapt as your technology changes. And, in fact, that they will still be welcome as needs change. So, it’s not only the educational institutions that need incentives to offer courses in skills employers need, the workers, too, need incentives that a decent future awaits them, if they make the effort to be retrained.
It’s not just technical skills that employers look for. The so-called soft skills – being able to work as a team, being friendly and attentive to customers etc. – can be just as important to employers.
It’s a tough world. Good things come to those willing to adapt. How you adapt – and how you think about the future – could make all the difference in your success.