Why Workforce Development Continues to be Important

Dr. Julie Murray-Jensen

The research is clear — having skilled, meaningful work makes a positive difference in the lives of individuals and communities. Workforce development — or ensuring that prospective and current employees have the meaningful learning and growth opportunities they need to serve organizations and communities well towards the well-being of all — continues to be a vital investment. Towards this end, three factors must be taken into account: the market, the individual, and the connector of time/location.

Skilling individuals up for jobs that do not exist, are not sustainable, or are not in the area at that time does not make sense. Organizations, government, and communities must invest in developing skilled workforce that are needed in the market. There is a key correlated relationship between the prosperity of the state and the workforce that must be continually assessed and supported for workforce development efforts to succeed. This does not mean that broader skills are unnecessary for employment. Critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, social intelligence — all are critical to the market in the effective development of employees. However, these skills can be imbedded with technical skills required of the market that can lead skilled workers to good employment and make organizations more successful. Tending to the needs of the market means just that.

The relationship between individuals and workforce development is important on two fronts — a) that the individual has some aptitude in the area of skill needed and that b) the individual has interest in gaining and/or improving those skill s. Regarding the latter, if an individual does something well, but does not enjoy it, it is not a good investment for workforce development. Or, on the contrary, if an individual enjoys something but has no aptitude, this too is not a good fit. For an effective relationship between workforce development and the individual both must be present — the individual must be good at the skill and be motivated to do it. Simply but so important.

The relationship between workforce development and the connector of time/location

Even if the market needs the identified skills, and an individual has the potential to do these skills well and wants to perform them, for workforce development to thrive there must be a match between time in location. Regarding time, is the skill needed now and do we believe it will be needed in the future with individuals who want to perform it? Regarding location, is the skill needed in the area, region, or via the web with a motivated workforce in support? This category connects the dots between the market and the individual and is essential when considering limited resources to ensure workforce development return on investment (ROI) for all — thriving for the individuals and organizations involved.

Despite what can undoubtedly be described as an unsettling time in 2020, there will continue to be an organizational need for a skilled workforce. Employees will continue to be drawn to places they can sustain work and grow. Organizations, institutions, governments, individuals, and communities that continue to invest in workforce development will come out on top, even in the uncertain times in which we live. To talk more about why workforce development matters, find me on LinkedIn.

Originally published at https://juliemurrayjensen.com on March 25, 2020.

Dr. Julie Murray-Jensen an action-oriented, education innovator with over 20 years of higher education executive and administrative experience.