By Nancy Muller, PhD, MBA
The Workforce Supply and Demand Gap Analysis, released in June by Avalanche Consulting of Austin, together with the Institutional Alignment Assessment completed by CAEL Consulting of Chicago, provide a valuable look at the current and future composition of Metro Charleston’s workforce and how closely higher education institutions are delivering “product” to match job demand. In summary, the largest gaps in workforce supply versus demand are in Undergraduate and Graduate Software Programming and Engineering, and Associate’s level Production and Medical competencies. But we can’t look at growth rates alone, as large growing clusters are forecast to add the most jobs in 2013-2018; namely: Medical (950), Back Office (775), Hospitality 650), and Personal Services (500), signaling continued reliance on the service economy as high tech expands. As the LGC Director, I’m delighted that the consultants’ recommendations put the LGC at the very top of their list for applying a collaborative strategy to fill gaps between knowledge and skills of potential employees in the region versus unmet needs of local employers.
Certainly, many job openings also require work experience, a factor not reflected in the report. In fact, local business representatives from Blackbaud and BoomTown speaking at the quarterly meeting in July of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA), bemoaned the difficulty of attracting to the area experienced talent with 10-15 years in IT. The size of the sector itself therefore needs to grow larger in order to offer individuals the promise of professional mobility without having to relocate again. “Without question, the shortage of tech talent is worldwide,” assures Dana Collier who moved in 2013 from Seattle to Charleston as Blackbaud’s leader of Talent Acquisition.
In support of our region’s workforce development, the LGC’s mission is to expand access to graduate level education opportunities. In addition to the University of South Carolina (USC)’s new Engineering Management degree that will be available in the Fall 2014 at the LGC’s new Paramount Drive and 526 location, USC will be offering in the Spring 2015 semester a new MS degree in System Design. Other new graduate programs are in development for health counselors and health services management, as well as doctorates in education. Those launches are expected in 2015.