Access to Talent: Pioneering Solutions for Workforce Challenges

Diverse engineers working

When asked what is the number one challenge that is preventing the business growth and sustainability, access to talent is the number one issue that businesses in the Aerozone District highlight. The challenge with this issue is that tackling workforce can feel a bit like a game of whack-a-mole. If you have ever participated in a discussion related to what are our workforce challenges, you will quickly hear the conversation devolve into the knee-jerk reactions that will lay the blame on everything from: public policies and programs to culture and attitude of the younger generation.

We fully recognize that the underpinning issues that are causing our current workforce woes, are complex. But none the less, we believe that we do have to ‘plant a few flags’ and begin judiciously designing, executing, and learning about what is actually working. In this article, I would like to share with you 3 programs that we believe are a very strong step in this direction.

1. All Workers: Transportation Access And Commuting Barriers

The Fund For Our Economic Future’s saying goes: “No car, no job; no job, no car.”

When we speak to candidates and workers, we often hear about this challenge. While this may continue to be an issue in other areas, starting in September, we hope that transportation will be significantly less of a barrier for our job workers.

SHARE Mobility video thumbnail

This month, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) announced that a new program will be rolled out in the Aerozone District to help address Transportation Access and Commuting Barriers for businesses/workers that are in the Aerozone. The program will both enable workers who are currently utilizing public transportation and also help support workers who are seeking alternative friendly options to driving their personal vehicles. You can read more about the announcement here.

Perhaps most critically, the program offers a longer-term sustainability solution by helping reduce our local carbon emissions footprint. Watch this video to learn more.

How the program will work:

Employers who are interested in joining the program will sign up with SHARE Mobility. The cost of program enrollment is $3/employee per month. Once the business is onboarded, their employees will be able to use SHARE Mobility’s platform to schedule to and from trips between the proximate public transit drop-off point and the employer’s front door.

Contact Mary J. Schmidt, Director of Business Engagement for the Aerozone Alliance, to learn more about the program.

Share Mobility van
2. 18-24 Year Olds: Aviation and Space Jobs

In discussion with our aviation and space companies, we have also seen a sharp need for these businesses to hire young people into technical roles. Individuals who may not always need a 4-year degree. To help test our regional supply of such talent and the business needs, we launched a pilot program in partnership with Lorain County Community College, Kent State University, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Ohio Aerospace Institute & Parallax, BridgePort, and Entrepreneurs Education Consortium to see how we can best align this talent together. Businesses interested in joining us can contact Mary J. Schmidt, Director of Business Engagement for the Aerozone Alliance, to learn more.

3. High School (Juniors & Seniors) STEM Enthusiasts & Scientists

For the last 8 months, an array of partners has been working together to design a more structured process to connect high school students to opportunities at NASA and STEM. The program entailed 4 steps:

  • (Step 1) NASA Scientists visited our schools and introduce students (Juniors) to STEM fields,
  • (Step 2) Students (Juniors) were invited to come for a field trip at NASA Glenn,
  • (Step 3) Students (Juniors) were invited to participate in a summer paid experiential learning program, and
  • (Step 4) Students (Now Seniors) who participated in the summer program are now being mentored and guided to help evaluate their STEM journey (after school programs, college, jobs, etc.).

This student testimonial video by Ahmaria Douglas shares more about the impact of the 2023 NASA Glenn Center Summer Career Exploration Program.

Ahmaria Douglas

As Aerozone Alliance partners (NASA Glenn Research Center, Ohio Aerospace Institute & Ohio Space Grant Consortium, Cleveland Metropolitan School District – PACE, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Greater Cleveland Career Consortium) work to address these issues, we maintain a steadfast commitment to driving positive change within the workforce landscape. Through innovative programs that address transportation, skills development, and education, the we aspire to take meaningful steps towards creating a more accessible, resilient, and prosperous future for the Aerozone District and beyond.