The purpose of this Executive Summary is:
- To provide an analysis of the job potential for the county in the next 5 years.
- Define the challenges the county faces in a technology based workforce environment
- Outline the job opportunities available now and in the next five years in Windham County.
Windham County is challenged by an aging workforce. US Census population estimates for Windham County for 2013 show that the majority of the workforce in the county is between 45 – 64 years old. At present this trend seems likely to continue. There is also evidence from employers that many of the core skills that are needed in the workforce are missing. These missing skills are not just with prospective hires but with present employees whom companies may want to move up in their organizations.
Population Estimates for Windham County, VT
2010 – 2013
|PEPAGESEX-Geography-Windham County, Vermont: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States, States, Counties, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013|
|Age||April 1, 2010||Population Estimates (as of July 1)|
|Both Sexes||Both Sexes||Both Sexes||Both Sexes||Both Sexes||Both Sexes|
|18 to 64 years||28,508||28,508||28,485||28,241||27,826||27,494|
|18 to 24 years||3,633||3,633||3,633||3,601||3,636||3,636|
|25 to 44 years||9,819||9,819||9,798||9,680||9,550||9,380|
|45 to 64 years||15,056||15,056||15,054||14,960||14,640||14,478|
|Median age (years)||44.9||44.9||45.0||45.4||45.6||46.1|
Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States, States, Counties, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division
Release Date: June 2014
The goal of the work is to understand the makeup of the current workforce, and to project what it is going to look like in the next five years. Will jobs grow or will there be a decline? Are the larger businesses (over 45 employees) of the county seeing a similar picture as the smaller ones? What are the issues that most concern employers in terms of the available work force?
The project began by approaching 67 of the largest businesses of the Windham Region asking them if they would be willing to participate in this project. To date 35 of those businesses have participated. These companies represented 7 different job sectors and 25.39% of the region’s workforce. Their information was collected, aggregated and analyzed. From our findings from this original group we took two further steps.
- In conjunction with the local chambers of commerce we sent out a modified electronic survey to small businesses (40 and under employees). 63% of the respondents in this group represented businesses with 10 or fewer employers. Contained in our survey to this group we asked about workforce size, expected growth and also what they saw as workforce challenges in terms of skill set issues.
- We went back to our original survey group and asked them four specific questions about core skills issues they were experiencing in hiring and maintaining a workforce.
What we learned, was that jobs exist and new jobs will become available in our area within the next five years. Based on the information provided by the participating businesses, they expect a minimum of 3,345 job openings. These will include new jobs (approximately 27% of the noted number) as well as replacement jobs due to staff turnover in existing positions. Supporting this growth we must do a better job of preparing area residents for these jobs. It is clear that employment preparedness issues are multi-faceted and complicated. To tackle Windham County’s complex employment landscape, it will require the work of current and future workers, schools, agencies and businesses (and some of this work must begin prior to high school.) We must also attract businesses and entrepreneurs to our area. In order to do this, we must improve the skills of our workforce. This in turn, will be the only way we make headway in helping our current employers grow, improving wages, and attracting jobs that pay more to the county.
Anyone wishing to settle in Windham County should be able to access educational opportunities and be financially able to live here. Additionally, Students, parents, schools, the business community, and the community at large all have a stake in guaranteeing that Windham County high school graduates are able to find meaningful work in the area while also providing a livable wage. Together we can grow Windham County making it a desirable place work and live. We are taking the steps to make this a reality.
The full workforce report and supporting documents can be found on line at: www.seveds.com/2014wfreport In addition, the report outlining challenges, objectives and goals for workforce development in Windham County can be found in the 2014 Windham County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies Report (CEDS) at: