Good News, the Unemployment Rate Went Up?!

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Good News, the Unemployment Rate Went Up?!

Yes, you read the title correctly – the 2015 January unemployment rate went up and many economists are hailing this as a positive sign for the economy.

When it comes to measuring the health of the job market, the unemployment rate undoubtedly gets the most attention, and criticism, when it is released on a monthly basis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Admittedly, accounting for every external real world factor and boiling it down into a single figure is not without its flaws, which is why, as a standalone statistic, simply citing an unemployment rate of 5.7% for January 2015 (a 0.1% increase over December 2014) does not tell the whole story.
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Training: Building Your Talent and the Economy

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Organizations in Northeast Ohio have long understood the importance of offering training and development opportunities to their employees. Whether training is being used as a strategy for attracting and retaining top talent to overall workforce development, ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey consistently reports that between 80 and 90 percent of organizations provide their employees with financial assistance to upgrade their skills. This percentage is even higher among NorthCoast 99 winners with 96% of these top workplaces offering workshops, trainings, conferences, etc to their top performers.

Training as an Attraction & Retention Strategy

Offering training and development opportunities was cited as is the top strategy, after direct monetary incentives, used to attract and retain top talent from a sample of 102 Northeast Ohio organizations participating in the 2012 ERC Talent Management Practices Survey. This commitment to building a skilled employee base is further demonstrated through the financial commitment made by these organizations. For example, 82% of respondents report offering financial assistance to employees who wish to pursue job-related training, 79% contribute financially towards conferences and 72% put money towards costs associated with professional societies/organizations on behalf of employees.

Training as a Factor for Economic Recovery

In addition to being beneficial for individual employers and their employees, training is also singled out as a key component for economic recovery. In an issue from November, 2012 of Fortune magazine, Nina Easton takes this one step further. She suggests that not only is training key for a recovery, but also warns that without significant investments in training from corporate America, the “job crisis” plaguing the U.S. economy for the past few years is likely to worsen. In today’s global market, she continues, U.S. employers hold the fate of their own recovery in their own hands. According to Easton, if we don’t invest in building the skills of employees here at home the so called “skills-gap” will continue to grow- a trend which she argues could be used by U.S. employers, “as an excuse to go on a shopping spree overseas for talent.”

While the survey data above demonstrates that many Northeast Ohio employers already recognize the importance of a well trained workforce, if Easton and other experts like her are correct, the influence that these organizations can have on the business climate may run even deeper than they realize- right to the heart of the economic recovery.

Additional Resources

Technical Training
Give your people the knowledge and skills to become a more efficient and productive employee. ERC offers a wide variety of technical training courses that are important to the success of your business. Click here for more info.

Financial Concerns Drive Innovation in the Workplace

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The results of the 2012 ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey demonstrate a commitment among Northeast Ohio employers to improving their workplaces despite and in some cases because of the financial challenges they face in today’s economy. While respondents indicate for the second year running that the economy is no longer their most pressing challenge, cost related challenges more generally such as funding, healthcare costs, controlling costs and financial stability are all among the top ten challenges reported by employers.

Perhaps the most striking fiscal measure being utilized to control costs reported by participants is layoffs. After a sharp decline in 2011, the percent of organizations anticipating layoffs for the coming year increased to 10.3%. However, it is important to note that while higher than 2011, this number still falls in line with pre-recession levels when double digit percentages were commonplace.
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