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Workforce Connect: Increasing the Talent Pipeline

By Miranda Kortan, Communications Specialist, Department of Communications and Bethia Burke, Vice President, Fund for our Economic Future

two men working with a machineAs the key provider of benefits in our community we know that there are thousands of people looking for jobs in Cuyahoga County. Workforce issues, such as matching jobseekers to positions that can support a family as well as providing employers with an extended pipeline of skilled talent, are the most significant barriers to business and job growth in the county.

We are tackling this complex problem through various workforce initiatives. Perhaps the most far reaching initiative is the recently launched Workforce Connect. Workforce Connect is designed to bring organizations together to help employers in three in-demand industries—manufacturing, health care and Information Technology (IT)—find the skilled talent they need through business-led sector intermediaries. These three sectors represent more than 72,000 job openings in the region. The intermediaries will coordinate employer and partner engagement; manage collaborative relationships; collect, analyze and share data in ways that drive strategic decision making; and maintain programmatic approaches that reflect national best practices in workforce development. This will allow us to understand the changing needs for particular jobs and to respond more quickly to provide needed skilled workers.

The first sector intermediary was created in manufacturing. The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) and the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) are the sector intermediaries co-leading this effort, known as Workforce Connect Manufacturing. A true public-private partnership, Workforce Connect Manufacturing is devoted to helping the County’s 1,800 manufacturing companies, representing more than 68,000 workers and 23,800 job openings, identify sustainable workforce development solutions. Comprised of manufacturing CEOs, educational institutions and the leadership of several nonprofits, Workforce Connect Manufacturing is looking at both short-term and long-term solutions to increase the talent pipeline, investing in existing programs and launching new initiatives where needed. Other sector intermediaries for healthcare and IT will be named in the future.

The Manufacturing Leadership Team for Workforce Connect Manufacturing is currently made up of 14 top executives from Cuyahoga County manufacturing organizations that range from 30 to thousands of local employees. This team met rigorously in the spring and early summer to learn about the state of the workforce in the county and the most common and critical barriers that people face, including transportation, child care, and literacy. The manufacturers have set a goal of bringing 3000 new people into manufacturing career paths over the next three years.

The vision and the three initial strategies, as well as how to get involved in the action teams around these strategies, are available at

“It has been nothing short of inspiring to see such a high-caliber collection of leaders come together to strategize and collaborate. This initiative is going to accomplish the manufacturers’ goals and do it in a way that creates excitement and innovation for the sector and the region,” said Adam Snyder, Managing Director of the Sector Partnership for MAGNET.

The result of Workforce Connect will be more businesses at the table articulating their workforce needs, and collaborating with education, workforce and service partners to link more residents with high demands jobs and career pathways to family-sustaining wages.

Workforce Connect is an effort of the Cuyahoga County Workforce Funders Group, a group comprised of leaders from Cuyahoga County, City of Cleveland, Cleveland-Cuyahoga Workforce Development Board, Team NEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland Foundation, Gund Foundation, Deaconess Foundation, United Way, and the Fund for Our Economic Future.

The Cuyahoga County Workforce Funders Group has committed up to $2.5 million to fund Workforce Connect for three years (2019-2021). The funding will consist of up to $1 million from the Cuyahoga County Economic Development Fund and up to $1.5 million from the other philanthropic, public and private partners.