Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) plays an important role in connecting our educational institutions to our current employers.
CAEDC’s Strategic Economic Development Plan directly supports the County’s Comprehensive Plan that includes Business Retention & Expansion strategies. As the county continues to be the fastest growing in the commonwealth, employers are having a hard time finding a skilled workforce to meet their demands. Cumberland County was tied for 4th out of 67 counties for the lowest unemployment rate in the state in 2016. While this shows a good sign that the residents of our Capital Region are mostly gainfully employed, it also places a real strain on existing and potential businesses in the area looking for a skilled workforce.
CAEDC, working with the South Central Workforce Investment Board (SCWIB), Cumberland Valley School District, Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School, and Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), several employers in the skilled trades, regional hospitals, and the United Way of Carlisle & Cumberland County, have created a Workforce Collaborative to build the future pipeline of skilled workers in key industries to meet growth demands.
“The Cumberland Valley School District believes that we must connect our educational programs directly to the economy,” said Fred Withum, Cumberland Valley School District Superintendent. “The best investment for our taxpayers is to ensure our children can obtain jobs in careers that provide family-sustaining wages.”
“Through interviews with our top employers, and data collection with Labor & Industry, CAEDC completed an analysis on key occupational gaps that exist in the region and in Cumberland County,” said Laura Potthoff, CAEDC Business Retention & Finance Manager. “Our workforce mission at CAEDC is to build a future pipeline of talent in jobs that pay in our region.”
This gap analysis led CAEDC to focus on Advanced Manufacturing and Healthcare. These two occupations have the highest demand for workers by 2024, and are good paying jobs. Due to infrastructure improvements in this area, CAEDC also saw a need to focus on Heavy Equipment.
Below are highlights for each area of focus.
Healthcare is our #1 private employer
Growing need for nurses to offset the wave of retirements from baby boomers
Pennsylvania ranks #2 for having the largest population of elderly, next to Florida
The number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to double during the next 4 decades
According to the Center for Workforce Information Analysis, there will be a net gain of over 2,900 registered nurses in the Harrisburg-Carlisle metro area by 2024 with an average wage of $68,310
CAEDC is working with our two biggest healthcare providers, PinnacleHealth and Geisinger, along with the county’s largest school district, Cumberland Valley, and the Cumberland Perry Area Vo-Tech School to identify specialized curriculum that would prepare students for this career path. This pathways program would ideally include a variety of courses targeted at broad-based healthcare education including soft skills training.
“As we face a growing need for well-educated healthcare workers in the years ahead, we welcome the plan for a creative partnership between healthcare and educational institutions in our area,” said Ann Spade, VP and Chief Nursing Officer at PinnacleHealth.
Includes five occupations: Industrial Engineer Technician, Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Maintenance Workers Machinery, Maintenance & Repair and Computer Numerically Control Operator
According to the Center for Workforce Information Analysis, there will be a net gain of over 490 advanced manufacturing jobs by 2024 with an average wage of $48,340
These jobs require less workers but pay higher rates which is perfect for Cumberland County’s low unemployment rate
This type of training will benefit the area’s distribution and logistics industries as well as a variety of other industries that use technological equipment
As these companies continue to compete with e-commerce, the need to be automated will continue to grow along with the need to retain and attract skilled workers
“Key to our recent successes and future plans is our partnership with CAEDC,” said Robert Novak, COO at The AMES Companies, Inc. “CAEDC has provided unique partnerships with educational institutions and introductions with local representatives which has allowed us to grow and be in a better position to fill today’s job openings while putting sustainable workforce strategies into place.”
Area construction and excavating companies reached out to CAEDC because they were unable to find skilled workers and wanted to discuss ways to fill needed jobs. To start, CAEDC facilitated a visit to Volvo Construction in Shippensburg where employers and educators were able to experience their heavy equipment simulators for potential partnerships for training.
Heavy equipment covers a variety of skill levels and occupations ranging from flaggers to surveying, estimators and project management engineers.
“Pennsy Supply is excited about CAEDC’s efforts to work with local contractors and educators to bring a Heavy Equipment Operator Curriculum,” said Mark Synder, President MIDA Group (Pennsy Supply, McMinn’s Asphalt, Pioneer Materials.) “Workforce development is a top construction industry concern. These programs will help to close the skills gaps and attract more workers to the construction industry.”
These workforce initiatives are just one way CAEDC helps to attract, retain and expand business in our region.