New survey aims to find causes and solutions to Northeast Ohio's talent shortage

Posted at 3:11 PM, Dec 28, 2021

CLEVELAND — From bakeries to bus drivers, now hiring signs sprinkle Northeast Ohio more than ever before.

The regional economic organization Fund For Our Economic Future has begun collecting what will be thousands of responses as part of a survey to learn more about what’s changed with the hiring situation in the area and what’s working going forward.

Bethia Burke serves as president of the philanthropic and civic alliance, which includes more than 40 organizations across Northeast Ohio that pool their resources together to invest and create a creative space around job preparation, job access and job creation.

There's a talent crisis in the United States, and it's really acute here in northeast Ohio,” Burke said. “And so what we're really wanting to do is understand what's behind it and really what can be done to better connect people and employers who are looking for workers.”

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Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the labor force in the Cleveland area still has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. 

Burke points out how many varying theories are shared when it comes to the cause of the labor shortage. 

We know daycare has been an issue,” she said. “We know health concerns are an issue, but we also know that there's been a shift in how people are thinking about work, and it gets lumped into this 'other factors' category, and that can be really hard to understand.” 

The project centers around two sets of surveys: one from the perspective of working-age adults, and one from companies looking to hire.

What will be most interesting to me is what happens when we bring those two pieces of information together because that's really just not often done,” Burke added.

The business survey is already available online, and the organization plans to reach out to job seekers and workers beginning in January. 

The organization hopes to have early results from the survey at the end of January.

We're at a time right now when we need to listen more closely to what workers want, and that can have real long-term impacts to how we think about work, how we structure our workplaces and what happens over the next decade or two,” she said.