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Workforce! Workforce! Workforce!

April 12, 2021Marissa Ransted, Director of Talent Development for the Abilene Industrial Foundation

Workforce! Workforce! Workforce! (in the tone of Marsha! Marsha! Marsha! from the Brady Bunch), sorry Gen Z if you don’t know the reference, you are missing out!

After dozens of conversations with our local businesses, we learned that employers are ready to hire!

According to the recent survey, conducted in partnership with the Abilene Chamber and the Abilene Industrial Foundation (AIF), local businesses need applicants who possess soft skills and technical skills to grow and sustain. With 101 responses total, over 69 percent of survey respondents stated, “Yes, I need applicants.”

We heard you! The Chamber and AIF have teamed up with the Texas Restaurant Association Abilene Chapter and local media stations KTAB/KRBC/Telemundo for an in-person job fair to take place on Wednesday, April 28, from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm at Rose Park Community Center.

So, what kind of Workforce are we working with in Abilene? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

  • The Abilene Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), consisting of Taylor Jones and Callahan counties, has a Civilian Labor Force population of 78,724 people.

What does that mean?

  • Abilene has 78,724 civilians of working age (16-61) in our area
  • 73,947 individuals are employed
  • 4,677 individuals are unemployed
  • Abilene has an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent

The top industries by employee size in our area include:

  • Education & Health Services
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities
  • Government and Professional and Business Services

The only industry that has shown growth versus prior year in employee populations is Professional and Business Service, increasing 4.8 percent.

Industries that have declined in employee population size are Construction, Information, Leisure and Hospitality (no surprise there) and Education and Health Services. Industries that remained consistent year over year in their employee size are Manufacturing and Financial Services. Hmmm…but why?

Interesting points to highlight in all this workforce data breakdown:

  • Healthcare Services and Education workforce were hit hard with many challenges throughout the pandemic and show a five percent decrease in their employees. Perhaps the decrease is due to the high stress work environment caused by the pandemic placed on our healthcare and education workers.
  • Leisure and Hospitality showed no growth from January 2021 to February 2021 in employees perhaps due to the challenges they too have faced during the pandemic. In comparison to prior years, this industry has decreased in employee size by 11.5 percent. Consumer demand for the industry has picked up since the first of the year and so has the need for workforce.
  • Manufacturing and Financial Services have been able to maintain its labor force throughout the pandemic, maintaining skilled labor locally.

What does the future for Abilene hold in terms of Workforce and Talent Development?

Here at the AIF, as a Develop Abilene partner, we are working towards growing our own talent pipeline through:

  • Conducting student roundtable events to understand the needs and wants of our incoming skilled workforce.
  • Collaborating with Abilene Independent School District (AISD) and the Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA) on the NEXTUniversity Career Development program that provides workforce development scholarships from the DCOA to students interested in careers in industry.
  • Identifying ways to tap into and bring education awareness to our local businesses about the benefits of utilizing our underserved workforce populations, such as re-emerging and disabled.
  • Partnering with Dyess Airman and Family Readiness to attract and retain skilled talent exiting and retiring from the military and their spouses.

See all those “ing” words? Those are verbs, and verbs are action words. The AIF along with the Chamber and DCOA are your boots on the ground working each day to enhance the future of Abilene.

Workforce! Workforce! Workforce is getting a lot of attention right now, and for good reason. The availability of skilled labor is ranked number one for top 10 site location factors. Skilled labor attracts new business and retains current local existing business, allowing Abilene to continuously grow, which is a large focus of the Develop Abilene team and the Chamber.

We encourage you to watch for more details about the upcoming job fair and submit your job openings to AbileneWorks.com for FREE!

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