In March 2016, Summit Workforce Solutions (SWS) was rebranded as ConxusNEO based upon the recommendations set forth in an assessment commissioned in 2014 by a team of key leaders within the public, education, and philanthropic sectors (Talent Steering Team). The impetus was to identify assets and gaps within the current talent system in Summit County and to implement a demand-driven talent strategy that positions companies to be more competitive and that increases opportunity for all residents.
The late County Executive Russ Pry and then Council President Ilene Shapiro championed the vision to redesign SWS to provide important backbone functions, and, over the past two years, the organization completed the redesign of SWS, launched several promising areas of work, and began to establish ConxusNEO as a value-added intermediary capable of providing essential functions to the emerging talent development system in Summit County. Highlights of our work include:
Initially, ConxusNEO collaborated with Team NEO in 2015 to provide data to support an inquiry led by manufacturers in the metal fabrication industry to confirm trends. This led quickly to the identification of areas for collective action to address immediate talent needs and strategies to build a talent pipeline, starting in Akron Public Schools.
In February 2016, ConxusNEO released its first significant body of data to illustrate high demand occupations within the manufacturing and IT sectors. Utilizing Burning Glass Labor Insight provided by Shanahan Resources, Inc., infographics were generated to highlight the most critical skills and competencies for each occupation, average starting salaries, and skills progression pathways.
Beginning November 2016, ConxusNEO provided EMSI data to Akron Public Schools to support its process to select high demand, high wage career pathways for its transitioning of each high school into a college and career academy by 2019. This model will prepare students to meet workforce demands of the local community. The Industry Partnership Councils, convened by ConxusNEO, is scheduled to meet on a quarterly basis where companies will review high demand data to ensure equity and representation of high demand career pathways.
In July 2017, ConxusNEO, in collaboration with the RITE Board, MAGNET, Stark State College, Lorain County Community College, and Cuyahoga Community College, engaged Shanahan Resources, Inc. in a research project utilizing data from Burning Glass Labor Insight to compare the demand for manufacturing and IT occupations in northeast Ohio to the supply of graduates who earned a credential that directly aligns with the skills needed by companies. The data was presented, reviewed and discussed with companies and education partners to discuss on how to close the gap between supply and demand.
While reports and infographics have not been released for the healthcare sector, Shanahan Resources, Inc. has provided considerable data and analysis from Burning Glass Labor Insight to be used in our conversations with health systems during 2017 and will be publicly released in November 2017.
Industry Network Sectors
ConxusNEO is facilitating the emergence of networks led by companies that engage partners critical to the cultivation of an effective talent supply chain. Initially, the Talent Steering Team decided to convene a small group of manufacturers in March 2015. These conversations further confirmed and quantified private sector experience regarding the looming retirement of baby boomers and its impact on generating skill shortages. This created a sense of urgency to take decisive action that would generate more people into the talent pipeline. By July 2015, the new Manufacturing Network was engaged with the Akron Public Schools (APS) to increase the number of students interested in machining programs and prepared for careers in manufacturing. The strategic nature and quality of this engagement led to a request in 2016 for ConxusNEO serve as the community convener to support the district to transform every high school into college and career academies focused on high demand sectors/occupations/career pathways and high wage careers in our region.
The Manufacturing Network has also engaged manufacturers, educators, economic developers, and other stakeholders throughout the county to engage them in similar partnerships with their school districts and career tech organizations. A major event called ALIGN was held in March 2017 that brought close to 200 participants representing manufacturers, educators, economic development and public sector leaders together to identify priorities for collective action and advance specific initiatives including: the design of new manufacturing education and training facilities and programs at the new Stark State College Akron campus and the College and Career Academies of Akron; advancement of new partnerships between Haas Factory Outlet and education partners, and; the growth of networks in other parts of Summit County.
Fueled in large part by ConxusNEO’s role in garnering Akron’s designation as a TechHire community under the Obama Administration in late 2015, companies hiring tech talent have been engaged in partnership with education and other key system partners to review labor market information to identify priorities and develop strategies for collective action to address the demand for tech talent. The TechHire Network is poised to launch a number of initiatives to cultivate a tech talent ecosystem that delivers the right talent to companies across a range of industries including, but not limited to, tech, manufacturing, insurance, healthcare, and finance.