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Building a Thriving Economic Ecosystem

Continuing the research that we first presented in The New Geography of Skills, we now show how speaking the common language of skills can bring educators, companies, and workforce/economic developers together to address the talent needs of a specific region or industry.

By combining broad labor market data with more nuanced skills cluster data, we provide a snapshot of the existing strengths—and the shifting landscape—of a key regional industry and demonstrate how this data can inform local talent strategies.

To illustrate this idea, we identify talent gaps that affect Minnesota’s medical device manufacturers and compare the state’s unique regional strengths with those of the same industry in California—revealing stark differences that can occur from place to place. Applying this highly granular data, Minnesota can then develop the right skills-focused programs to strengthen and diversify the in-demand skills that ultimately retain medical device companies and keep the regional economy strong.

Findings and Application

To keep higher ed, workforce/economic development, and strategic HR organizations aligned and valuable to the people they serve, we recommend that this data be used in four very clear and practical ways:

  • Step 1: Know your strengths and look to diversify
  • Step 2: Identify competitive opportunities for upskilling
  • Step 3: Strengthen the local talent pipeline
  • Step 4: Develop in-demand microcredentials

“Any local leader, whether in city hall, workforce board, K–12, or higher ed, should apply the principles of Using Skills to Strengthen Regions. With the skilling approach highlighted by the report’s data, a region’s efforts will be dramatically more effective.”

Stephen Goldsmith

Professor of government and director of the Innovations in Government program at Harvard Kennedy School, former mayor of Indianapolis, and deputy mayor of New York City

Download the full report and start exploring the data.