Using Skills to Strengthen Regions

Published on Feb 24, 2020

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

Using Skills to Strengthen Regions

Emsi is pleased to announce the release of a brand new study, “Using Skills to Strengthen Regions.” The report explores the fascinating dynamics of how skills manifest themselves at the regional level, and how local leaders can use this type of analysis to create or enhance regional strategies to support the connection between people, education, and work.

Click here to download or read on for more description.

One of the biggest themes that has emerged from Emsi’s recent work with skills is how remarkably different regions or communities can be when you start to analyze things at the level of skills. For instance, in our recent report “New Geography of Skills,” we found that digital marketing takes on completely different forms in Boise than in Atlanta.

The ramifications of using skills are many. First, it allows us to get beyond the limitations of the existing taxonomy from state and federal sources. Now, allow us to say right here that state and federal data is good and extremely helpful. Emsi has used this data for years (and will continue to do so), and it is one of the critical ingredients that helps make the US workforce, economic development, post-secondary, and talent acquisition work so effective. That being said, skills help us take regional analysis to a whole new level. Using skills, we can at last understand our regions and the work that characterizes them using the same language that companies (in job postings), colleges (in curriculum), and people (in resumes and profiles) actually speak.

Second, such information has tremendous application. Specifically, it is useful for:

  1. Colleges and universities trying to create curriculum that is more aligned to the demand signals coming from employers (read more about that here).

  2. Businesses trying to make sure they are looking for the talent/skills in the right places.

  3. People trying to pursue the right programs and skills for their community.

  4. Workforce and economic developers trying to keep their own regions healthy and thriving.

In our new report, we take this concept of the uniqueness of skills in a region, and push it a step further. We analyze the distinct and vital characteristics of Minneapolis’s thriving medical device manufacturing in order to illustrate that the skills sought in Minnesota (specially, the Twin Cities) are quite a bit different from what the medical device manufacturers are looking for in California.

First, we identified talent gaps that affect Minnesota’s medical device manufacturers, and compared the state’s unique regional strengths with those of the same industry in California. This comparison revealed the sort of stark differences that can occur from place to place, but what’s more, we also discovered that the Twin Cities’ economy—a clear leader in medical device manufacturing—might need to better align itself to the changing needs of this important sector. Or perhaps, as the needs of medical manufacturers change, employers are simply struggling to find the skills they need in the Twin Cities.

To solve this problem, Minnesota can use this highly granular data to develop the right skills-focused programs to strengthen and diversify the in-demand skills that ultimately retain medical device companies and keep the regional economy strong.

Our hope is that this report continues to highlight the importance and application of a skills-based perspective and creates more awareness of how such data can be used to create far more innovative and proactive approaches to regional development from a variety of public policy, higher ed, and talent acquisition perspectives.

Check it out! We would love to hear what you think.

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