TIP Strategies is a privately held Austin-based economic development consulting firm committed to providing quality solutions for public and private‑sector clients.
This blog is dedicated to exploring new data and trends in economic development.
By: Liz Alderman
Via: The New York Times
DUBLIN — Week after week, newspapers issue a stream of hopeful headlines: Microsoft, PayPal, Fujitsu and scores of other companies are expanding their investments in Ireland, creating thousands of jobs as unemployment hovers near record highs.
There is just one hitch: Not enough people are qualified to fill all the jobs. In some cases, the companies have had to look outside Ireland to recruit candidates with the right skills.
After a five-year economic crisis, the mismatch represents one of the thorniest problems facing Ireland and many other European countries. Hundreds of thousands of people who lost work, and many young people entering the work force, are finding that their skills are ill suited to a huge crop of innovation-based jobs springing up across the Continent.
“In all countries, there is an expectation that many of the new jobs created will be in the knowledge-intensive economy,” said Glenda Quintini, a senior labor economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “But we are seeing a worrisome skills mismatch that means a large number of unemployed people are not well prepared for the pool of jobs opening up.”
Employers have long complained that graduates do not have the skills they need. But in a recent report, the International Labor Organization warned that “skills mismatches and occupational shifts have worsened” in Europe in the wake of the crisis. People laid off in hard-hit sectors, from construction to finance, face lengthy retraining, while too few graduates entering the job market have chosen engineering, science or technology degrees for the growing innovation-based jobs market.
The gap in Europe has important consequences for the recovery as the euro zone grapples with unemployment rates stuck stubbornly above 12 percent: It may hold back a return to meaningful growth and generate “significant economic and social costs,” according to the European Commission, the policy-making arm of the European Union.
The International Labor Organization went further, warning that the gap might contribute to extended spells of unemployment and might reduce the effectiveness of policy interventions to stimulate growth. In the United States, the phenomenon has also helped contribute to a rise in long-term joblessness, the organization said.
Around two million job vacancies around the European Union are languishing unfilled, about the same number as in 2010, in sectors ranging from hotel work to computer programming, according to Eurostat, the statistics office of the European Union.
A study released in November by Eurofound, the research arm of the European Union, showed that despite the recession, almost 40 percent of companies reported difficulty in finding workers with the right skills, compared with 37 percent in 2008 and 35 percent in 2005.
The problem is especially striking for innovation-based companies, which are generating jobs at a rapid clip as technology spreads through every sector of the economy. By 2015, about 900,000 information and communications technology vacancies may go unfilled in the European Union, the European Commission warned in a recent report on the digital economy. The gap “is of major concern to European competitiveness” and to the economy as a whole, the commission said.
Governments and companies around Europe are fast-tracking efforts to retrain the unemployed for a burst of technology-related jobs. They are also stepping up campaigns to lure university students to mathematics, engineering and science in place of popular courses in the humanities and social sciences.
In Ireland, the government introduced a series of retraining and higher-education programs and sought to polish the allure of mathematics degrees as alarm bells sounded over the issue a couple of years ago. At the time, unemployment was around 14 percent after an economic collapse that destroyed jobs in the construction sector, which had employed around a quarter of the young men in the country.
Multinational technology and social media companies kept investing, lured by Ireland’s ultralow 12.5 percent corporate tax rate and an English-speaking work force. But many have been forced to look outside the country for employees with the right skills, despite more than 391,500 being out of work and a jobless rate of around 12.5 percent.
The issue peaked last summer, when PayPal’s chief executive in Ireland, Louise Phelan, stoked controversy by acknowledging that the company had recruited from 19 other countries for 500 positions in its operations center in Dundalk because of a lack of foreign-language skills among Irish nationals. This summer, Fujitsu, which employs 800 people in Ireland, revealed that it had had to hire most of its Ph.D.-level experts from abroad.
All told, around half of information technology jobs in Dublin were being filled with foreign workers, while around 4,500 information technology jobs in the country were going unfilled because of a limited supply of suitably skilled applicants, various studies have shown. Paul Sweetman, the director of ICT Ireland, a business lobby group, said that part of Ireland’s strategy was to enhance its attractiveness as an investment and work destination by luring bright minds from around the world to the technology sector.
The skills shortage prevented Ireland-based companies from “effectively executing their business strategies,” which created a risk of lower productivity and slower growth, according to a recent report by the consulting company Accenture.
Part of the problem for all countries, not only Ireland, was that technology-related university training lost appeal after the dot-com bust in the early 2000s, said Regina Moran, the executive director of Fujitsu in Ireland. In Ireland, people flocked to construction or tourism work, which blossomed in the middle of the decade.
Ian Sharpe was one of them. He spent nearly 15 years working in the hotel industry until Ireland’s banking crisis strangled the Celtic Tiger and left him jobless in 2010. He languished on benefits as he tried fruitlessly to find new work.
But last year he latched on to back-to-work programs that the government had introduced with businesses.
Recently, 182 candidates — most of them unemployed, with backgrounds in fields including farming, construction and even astrophysics — went through retraining. One company, VMware, hired 82 people, and other companies hired nearly everyone else — including Mr. Sharpe.
On a recent weekday, he was huddled with a team of technicians in the Cork-based offices of VCE, a joint venture between VMware, Cisco, EMC and Intel that provides cloud and virtualization software and services.
After six months as an intern, he was hired full time to help manage a data center, with an annual salary of around 30,000 euros, or about $40,000 — about what he was making as a hotel manager.
The initiatives are not without flaws. For example, as part of the JobBridge internship program, people continue to collect unemployment and receive a modest €50 stipend per week. For many, that barely covers transportation and food. Stories have littered the Irish press of abuses by companies in the program, such as giving interns either menial tasks or fully fledged professional work with no pay, and with no job ultimately materializing.
Such talk was so widespread that Mr. Sharpe said that people had urged him not to enter the program. But he wanted to avoid the fate of a number of his friends who had fallen into a rut, where the longer they were unemployed, the less likely they were to get back into the job market.
“I know people who had to get medication for being depressed, because they don’t see anything coming,” he said.
He now has an air of hope. “I’ve gone from someone who had never been professionally involved in I.T. to getting an engineering position just nine months later,” Mr. Sharpe said.
“You can see where you’re going,” he added. “Finally, there’s something to aim for.”
By: Bret Schulte
Via: The New York Times
HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — If you are from around here, you know Doug Friedlander is not.
Born in New York City and reared on Long Island, Mr. Friedlander is Jewish and vegetarian and has a physics degree from Duke.
But here he is, at 37, living in a roomy white house in this hard-luck Delta town of 12,000. Mr. Friedlander and his wife, Anna Skorupa, are part of a gradual flow of young, university-trained outsiders into the Delta’s shrinking communities, many of whom arrived through Teach for America and stayed beyond their two-year commitment.
Mr. Friedlander is now the ambitious director of the county’s Chamber of Commerce. He frets over the kudzu that is devouring abandoned buildings. He attends Rotary Club meetings, where he sidesteps the lunch offerings for carnivores. He organizes workshops to modernize small businesses and pushes tourism and the development of a decimated downtown along the banks of the Mississippi.
The mechanization of agriculture, lost manufacturing and a legacy of poverty and racism have taken their toll on the Delta, but Mr. Friedlander is thrilled to be here. He left his job at a software company in North Carolina’s Research Triangle nine years ago, taking a two-thirds pay cut, to “make a bigger difference.”
To that end, “this is the most fertile soil on earth,” Mr. Friedlander said. “If I were in New York, I would be a leaf at the end of a branch at the end of a tree — in a forest.”
Mr. Friedlander arrived in 2004 to teach science at Central High School in Helena. He was one of 71 corps members in the Delta; currently, about 300 of them fan across the region’s classrooms each year, mostly in Arkansas and Mississippi.
Here, in towns like Helena, a former agricultural hub and river port, they find some of the most devastating poverty in the country: shacks on cinder blocks, schools with nearly all students on subsidized lunch programs.
Segregation is a fact of life. Private “white-flight academies,” as some locals call them, are common, leaving public schools to serve an overwhelmingly poor, black student body.
“I just knew when they left my classroom, it was an uphill battle for so many of my kids,” said Greg Claus, who is from Ohio and taught art at a public junior high school from 2008 to 2011. Now an assistant to the mayor of Greenville, Miss., he has seen the names of some former students on the police blotter. Several more are already parents.
Teach for America is fiercely competitive, drawing top graduates accustomed to success. “For most, this is the hardest challenge they’ve ever met,” said Luke Van De Walle, a 33-year-old corps alumnus from Indiana who has settled in Helena with his wife, Jamie, and their two young children. “They put a lot of effort in, and they get chewed up by 25 third graders.”
Still, some former members say they have never felt so satisfied.
Michelle Johansen, 37, arrived from the University of Michigan in 1997. Since then, she has become a volunteer manager at the farmers’ market in Cleveland, Miss. She works part time at Habitat for Humanity and is an adjunct instructor at Delta State University.
“I don’t want to leave,” said Ms. Johansen, who is married and has two children. “The work I’ve been able to do in the Delta is fulfilling.”
She does wish there were a Target in town. And a movie theater. There is no place to get brunch. But, she said, “there’s something about the Delta that’s very special, and if people are open to it, they will be captivated by it.”
Matty Bengloff, 28, is one of those people. He grew up in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Now he owns a three-bedroom home in Cleveland, as well as a hip new yogurt shop called Delta Dairy, with his fiancée, Suzette Matthews.
“The barriers here are low,” Mr. Bengloff said. “You can be really entrepreneurial. Everyone is eager to help.”
But the transition is not always easy.
Residents cured Mr. Bengloff of his Yankee ways. Soon after arriving in the South with Teach for America, Mr. Bengloff was in a school speaking to a receptionist. When he could not hear the man’s words, Mr. Bengloff asked, “What?” The receptionist said: “I can tell you’re not from around here. When you don’t understand something, you say, ‘Excuse me, sir?’ Or, ‘Sir?’ ”
Mr. Bengloff took the lesson to heart. Now his habitual use of “ma’am” irritates his mother back East. He drawls, “Thanks, y’all,” to customers passing through his shop.
Ms. Johansen and Mr. Bengloff said they were attracted to the quirks and complexity of the Delta.
They have found schools that are progressive and a complicated political scene. Ms. Johansen’s doctor is a catfish noodler (who fishes bare-handed). Shopping online is more necessity than convenience, though a two-hour jaunt to Memphis is common. The unofficial town motto, plastered on bumper stickers, is an ironic “Keep Cleveland Boring.”
No one, residents say, is too busy for a good chat.
“I know people who live in places with lots of things,” Ms. Johansen said. “Movie theaters. A Target. And they aren’t happy. I’m a happy camper.”
Mr. Bengloff, who is Jewish, found what locals call a “church family,” led by a retired rabbi who commutes from Memphis once a month. Just as many of the temple regulars are Christian as are Jewish, just because they like the diversity of experience and, said Mr. Bengloff, “the rabbi is great.”
Some longtime residents initially resented the inflow of Teach for America members with fancy degrees and backgrounds. Those troubles have largely eased over time. And the hard truth is, the Delta needs the people.
“It’s good having highly educated folks coming back,” said Chuck Roscopf, a lawyer in Helena. “My kids, my friends’ kids — they’re all gone. They’re in Dallas or just about anywhere else, but they won’t come back.”
Teach for America entered the Delta in 1992, when it dispatched a few dozen corps members to Helena and Marianna, Ark. The numbers and geographic reach expanded steadily but exploded in 2009 because of an influx of funds from the State of Mississippi and the Walton Family Foundation.
The organization now estimates that over those years, 250 corps members have stayed on after their two-year commitments were over. Some have remained in education; others found jobs in private industry and community organizations.
They have started education-based nonprofit groups, like Mississippi First and the Sunflower County Freedom Project. Mr. Friedlander and Ms. Skorupa, with other Teach for America alumni, were founding board members of a new Boys and Girls Club in Helena.
Mr. Friedlander remains a hard-charging New Yorker, which has rubbed some folks the wrong way.
“If he was just here to make money, they probably would have run him out of town,” said Jason Rolett, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Phillips County. But Mr. Friedlander has won the trust of much of the community, Mr. Rolett said, “because of his heart, how much he cares.”
Mr. Friedlander enjoys ripping through a PowerPoint presentation of Helena’s new health center, riverboat tours, renovated historic buildings, a downtown emerging from ruin and new businesses. His pride is palpable.
Helena even has its first director of an advertising and promotion commission, Julia Malinowski, 27, from Seattle.
Word is spreading beyond the Teach for America crowd.
Recently, graphic designers opened a firm called Thrive in Helena after living for five years in Brooklyn, where “about 200,000 people were trying to do what I wanted to do,” said a co-owner, Terrance Clark.
He has had enough work in the Delta to hire two interns from Midwestern design schools this summer. And Mr. Clark has recruited a group of friends from Indianapolis to come to Helena to work on community projects under his company’s 501(c)(3) umbrella.
Mr. Clark, Ms. Malinowski and the rest work together in a chic business incubator downtown.
The space is airy and open, with interior brick and a glass conference room — sort of like what you would find in Brooklyn.
By: Jonathan Rothwell
Workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields play a direct role in driving economic growth. Yet, because of how the STEM economy has been defined, policymakers have mainly focused on supporting workers with at least a bachelor’s (BA) degree, overlooking a strong potential workforce of those with less than a BA. A new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program presents a new and more rigorous way to define STEM occupations, and in doing so presents a new portrait of the STEM economy.
Graphics by Christopher Ingraham
Sources: Based on Brookings analysis of data from the Department of Labor’s O*NET program, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Community Survey and the Strumsky Patents Database.
By: Collin Eaton
Via: Houston Business Journal
Surrounded by Houston business and civic leaders at Rice University, the Greater Houston Partnership said Wednesday it has launched a regional workforce development initiative to tackle major labor issues in Houston.
“Employers are saying this workforce issue that we’ve been talking about and suggesting might be an issue, it is now here and now,” Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, told me in a press conference before Wednesday’s Global Cities Initiative event, put together by the Brookings Institute and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Also during the event, leaders from the initiative talked about how Houston can become a bigger player in the global economy.
Harvey said one company told him, “‘If we can’t be certain that we can bring the construction workforce to build a petrochemical facility, we want to build on the Houston Ship Channel — and if we’re not certain the workforce to operate that facility is there, we’ll go somewhere else.’”
In response to executives’ growing labor concerns in Houston, the Partnership is launching the GHP Regional Workforce Development Taskforce over the course of the coming weeks. It will be co-chaired by Gina Luna, chairman of the Houston region for JPMorgan Chase, and Bruce Culpepper, executive vice president of human resources at Houston-based Shell Oil Co., the U.S. arm of Hague-based Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
Harvey said executives are concerned about attracting a skilled, technical workforce in Houston.
On the task force, half the seats will go to business leaders across key sectors — oil and gas, manufacturing, health care, the petrochemical industry and a few businesses outside of those industries, Harvey said.
In 2013, the task force intends to create a plan to go forward with in 2014, he added.
“We’re not going to have this group of high-level executives and leaders sitting at the table to work out the nuts and bolts,” he said. “They’re going to scope out the problem, figure out what the opportunities are, focus the effort — and then in 2014 we’ll go forward. This is in the one- to five-year, near-term horizon.”
By: Irene Chapple
(CNN) — The global talent war is heating up as baby boomers begin their mass exodus from the workforce. But a new report reveals employers are not prepared for the new generation of emotionally intelligent, ethnically diverse workers.
“After the Baby Boomers, The Next Generation of Leadership” reveals what the next two decades of the global workforce will look like, as those born after the war make way for the so-called X and Y generations.
Organizations that fail to prepare for the evolution of the workforce “do so at their peril,” the report, from executive recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson and Cass Business School, found.
The report drew on surveys of 100 senior executives across 19 countries, and 24 nationalities, between 2010 and 2012.
Cliff Oswick,deputy dean of Cass Business School, said the “rock star” approach to chief executive leadership which has been prevalent in recent years will no longer work.
Oswick, speaking during the report’s launch in London Wednesday, pointed to different types of corporate structures, such as citizen-centric and servant leadership, as models for the future.
According to the report, the rise of women into positions of power will create a “feminization” of leadership which will be reflected in the increasing importance of emotional intelligence, people skills and flexibility.
The importance of the BRIC nations and other emerging markets will also ensure more culturally diverse workers are employed around the world.
This, the report found, will mean knowledge of other languages will become more important. However, English is cementing itself as the language of business, with executives regarding fluency for non-native speakers more important than native speakers speaking a foreign language.
According to Oswick, the demands of the X and Y generations are aligned to the skill-set of female leadership styles. However he noted high-flying corporate women of today’s world are not necessarily showing more feminine attributes, such as emotional intelligence and aversion to risk.
Oswick said the shift in leadership styles that generations X and Y will bring was yet to flow through to workplaces. Ingrained discrimination against woman in remained an issue, he added.
The generational change mean executives seek a new crop of leaders who can inspire others “across geographic and age barriers,” and who were comfortable with uncertainty as well as being curious, educated, well read and traveled.
The report noted: “This list makes sense: emotional intelligence and flexibility are essential skills in an environment where generations, cultures and gender are all in flux.”
However, the new generation is also focused on work and life balance, rather than just corporate progression. This attitude can be seen particularly with working women, who want to be intellectually stimulated and valued as part of a team, the report found. This desire was more prevalent than pushing through a perceived glass ceiling.
One of the interviewees noted: “In general we are nurturing individuals, while the baby boomers are more generalists.”
The biggest single challenge will be recruitment, as the world’s population ages and companies seek specialists in fields such as technology.
However, the report reveals only 41% of the respondents believe organizations are ready for the changes the influx of X and Y generation leaders will bring to the workforce.
One respondent said the company was “actively trying to get in front of the change and lead.” However, “I find it difficult to say that we are ready. I doubt many organizations are.”
The report suggests organizations should ease the transition by allowing senior executives to use the last years of their career to mentor up-and-coming leaders. Respondents were split on whether a move away from full executive responsibilities should mean a reduction in pay.
Organizations should also adapt to the different mind-sets of the new generations, who looks for a work and life balance and the opportunity to work smarter rather than harder. Flattening the organizational structure and ensuring companies are culturally aware will be vital, the report said.