Southwest Indiana Talks Talent

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Coalition hosted an important event, the Talent Infrastructure Summit, on September 28 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Evansville; and, here are the Cliffs Notes. The Summit was a natural extension of the Regional Cities initiative, which at its heart is about attracting and retaining talent to Southwest Indiana. From how to effectively blend a multi-generational workforce to the value of using good data to make decisions and why making strategic investments in quality of place really matter, the presentations and discussion were weighty. The Summit also featured a sneak peek at an innovative workforce pilot project being driven by the Coalition that focuses on extensive social media data and branding, more about the pilot project in upcoming e-newsletters as it progresses.
Three things really stuck out during the Summit and the first was how we view talent. Rather than thinking of talent as a key marketing function or as “talent acquisition”, we typically regard it as just another compliance function of the human resources department or, worse yet, just trying anything to fill a vacant slot on a production line.
Another key takeaway was that millennials rely heavily on their parent’s opinions or viewpoints when making important decisions; and, if Southwest Indiana manufacturing companies want to convince millennials that manufacturing, which drives our region’s GDP, is a great career path then parents need an equal seat at the discussion table and are more influential in that regard than high school guidance counselors.
Possibly the presentation that won the award for the loudest audible gasp from the audience was from Dr. Chris Chmura with Chmura Economics & Analytics illustrating the “ Graying of America” or the dramatic shift of population by age cohort for the U.S. from 2010 to 2030. The visual imagery was stunning as almost no American state or county escaped getting substantially older. Unfortunately, highly industrialized countries like Germany, Italy and Japan are aging at an even more rapid pace.
We learned as well that decisions made today have a clear impact on our ability as a region to attract talent in the future; and, whatever decisions made need to be inclusive, data-driven and purposeful. We need to ask how we are talking to others about Southwest Indiana and whether the experience of potential job candidates in the hiring process is welcoming or a barrier to their employment.
The most important thing we learned is that the conversation is far from over and must continue if our companies, organizations and community will be successful in attracting and retaining talent to Southwest Indiana. Your voice is essential and we urge you to stay tuned as there will be much more to come regarding talent over the coming months.