Regional partnership to address workforce demand

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PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Alcoa Foundation Monday announced a partnership designed to help build the Pittsburgh region’s workforce to meet the demands of the area’s growing energy and manufacturing industries.


The ogranizations said in a news release that both industry and workforce leaders agree that at all levels, awareness is lacking of emerging job opportunities in the region, especially in high-demand occupations that foresee large-scale retirements adding additional demand.


The partnership is in response to the findings of an energy workforce analysis released last year by the Allegheny Conference and the Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh, which revealed 14 high-demand, hard-to-fill occupations common to energy and related manufacturing sectors.


The Alcoa Foundation’s three-year, $390,000 commitment will aid improvements to educational and workforce systems. For the company, facilitating the direct engagement of multiple employers to build common training curriculum and certifications is a core strategy in its workforce development programs.


“This community-based initiative will ultimately enable people to pursue careers as skilled tradespeople and operators, with a particular impact on our workforce development goals here in Pittsburgh,” said Julie Caponi, head of Alcoa’s Pittsburgh office and vice president of audit.


The Alcoa Foundation’s investment will support efforts by the Allegheny Conference to increase awareness and align systems by:


• Coordinating regional efforts with those being undertaken by state and national partners to reach talent from outside the region who may want to come back to Pittsburgh or relocate here;


• Engaging in outreach and marketing efforts, including the redesign and re-launch of ImaginePittsburgh.com, to increase public awareness of the opportunities in energy and manufacturing related employment;


• Developing pilot programs to target additional high-demand, hard-to-find positions across the energy and manufacturing industries.


“The Pittsburgh region has led the nation out of recession over the past five years, and our $19 billion energy economy has been a key contributor,” said David Porges, chair of the Allegheny Conference Workplace Committee, and chairman, president and CEO of EQT Corp. “As we look ahead, however, we know that we must be proactive to ensure that the talent in our region has the skills and education needed by employers. Right now, we clearly face a skills gap that needs to be addressed to successfully match job-seekers to employment opportunities.”


The workforce analysis, conducted by global talent recruitment consultancy Development Dimensions International of Bridgeville, surveyed energy-related employers in the 10-county region to better understand current and future hiring needs.


The survey identified 14 high-demand, hard-to-fill occupations common across energy and manufacturing sectors. Among these 14 occupations, all but one required education and training beyond high school, with five requiring a four-year college degree.


In addition to educational and technical skills required for these positions, DDI also identified crucial behavioral competencies, the absence of which are often reasons for an individual’s lack of advancement in a job. A key recommendation of the study is greater use of curriculum to develop these skills.


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