he Greater Wabash region was awarded a grant to become a SET region through USDA Rural Development. SET stands for Stronger Economies Together and has been implemented all over the country as a way to bring region’s together to work on their most pressing issues. Out of the program, we are developing 3 goals.
Goal #1- Employability- Do you have job openings or know of a company that has job openings that they cannot fill? Have you heard from someone that a person needs to get a 4 year degree in order to be successful in life? Do you believe that there is a “brain drain” problem with our region (high school students leaving for college and never coming back)?
- Employability of the region's workforce
- Business Support
- Quality of Life/Tourism
The region is facing many issues but the main issue is our workforce. Workforce is not just a regional issue but a nationwide issue.
As part of the SET program, we are proposing a different mindset to the region’s workforce issue.
We want our population to stop declining.
We want to keep our youth in the region.
If you were to ask a high school student what employers are in the region, would they know? Would they know what they could potentially do here? Do they know what the average wage is for some of the jobs in the region that need to be filled?
We want to fill employment positions that are in the region with quality employees.
Unfortunately, the misalignment of education and available jobs within the region is not the only issue we are facing. Greater Wabash did a survey of local businesses in the region and from the survey almost every business believed that lack of soft skills was their #1 issue.
Soft skills can be defined as: attendance, appearance, attitude, teamwork, initiative, integrity, commitment & loyalty, dependability, productivity, and communication. A skilled workforce is a core part of a community’s economic competitiveness and soft skills is a basic component of a skilled workforce.
As a part of the SET program, we are also proposing to implement a soft skills training program within the region’s education system. These programs need to combine education on the soft skills topics and leadership. Children need to feel empowered at a young age and believe they can break the cycle of poverty and become a leader.
A consortium of K-12, economic development, community colleges and businesses has been developed within the region to make our youth more employable, stop the population decline and to provide a competitive workforce in the region. If you would like to be a part of this group, contact our office today.
To read more about Employability and the Business Symposium held on August 9th- CLICK HERE.