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Fuel your future workforce: How to attract and retain professional talent

Professionals eating diner

 

Attracting top talent is key to regional economic development. The more an area grows, the stronger, more productive, and diverse its economic base can become. Businesses benefit as applicant pools expand, performance levels accelerate, and improving bottom lines strengthen their ability to compete. However, these long-term goals raise one question: How do regions draw highly skilled talent from both within and outside their immediate markets?  

Talent Pools to Target

In any region, a constant stream of fresh, knowledgeable talent is vital for business development and economic growth. The most successful talent attraction strategies typically focus on two groups:

1.  Young, college-educated professionals

These individuals value promises of professional development along with a quality lifestyle. By offering experiential opportunities, internships, and cooperative business-education research and development ventures, you can better attract this target audience. In addition, partnering with surrounding area high schools and universities to promote local career opportunities can serve as an effective talent pipeline for young, motivated candidates.

2.  Experienced professionals in outlying areas

This group typically is made up of professionals whom are willing to relocate for career advancement and increased productivity. To target these individuals, communities are implementing statewide, regional, and even national professional networking and social events. This group typically contains more workers looking for safe, attractive cities to start and raise families. Promoting family-friendly environments, investing in primary education, and developing attractive leisure hotspots are great auxiliary strategies for drawing in these professionals.

Retention Strategies

Successful businesses are formalizing their employee retention strategies. The National Center for the Middle Market places hiring the right employees as a high priority but specifies that businesses offering career development programs along with benefits are more likely to retain valuable professionals and attract talent. In addition, providing flexible work schedules, promoting from within, and emphasizing health and wellness can help businesses earn employee loyalty and garner respect in professional networking circles.

Intangibles

Along with competitive salaries, small details often become deciding factors for professionals making employment decisions. A paper prepared for the International Regions Benchmark Consortium observed that:

  • 1. The ability to attract and retain talent ultimately depends on whether highly skilled and educated people actually want to live within the region.

  • 2. The most economically successful areas are also very nice places to live, offering residents safe, attractive neighborhoods along with a number of leisure and entertainment options.

Taking these factors into consideration, selling the benefits of your area or city becomes just as important as selling job openings to talented professionals. Creating initiatives to promote local events and progressive developments can be beneficial in attracting new workforce talent:

  • • Create and maintain a quality of life website dedicated to marketing regional events and quality of life.

  • • Coordinate career fairs with high-volume local events, such as festivals and seasonal attractions.

  • • Invest in quality development within your city. Jobs are only as attractive as the city they’re found in.

 

Our Experience: Community and Business Initiatives

 

Developing Acadiana

Acadiana’s mild climate and rich culture are perfect for welcoming social networking and business-oriented programs. One Acadiana offers a number of pro-business incentives to aid developing ventures in the region. By investing in local schools and universities, pushing initiatives to improve infrastructure and developing quality industrial sites, you can foster an environment for further workforce expansion. Chancellor Natalie Harder points to the new academic building slated to open in the spring of 2017 at South Louisiana Community College as a prime example of successful community-business partnership. Harder states, “this new building on the college’s Lafayette campus and the Registered Nursing program (which will anchor the building) are two great examples of unprecedented cooperation from our community. The investment of our partners for these initiatives demonstrates the strong commitment the business community has here in Acadiana. They are taking an active role in building the workforce and making this place an even greater area to live and work.”

Attracting Talent

Finding and retaining talent is a key asset for the success of your workforce. Through talent outreach initiatives and customized community tours, your city can extend its reach to talent lying outside its borders. Meanwhile, investing in strategies that blend community and economic development encourages visitors and tourists to explore the career opportunities our region has to offer. By timing these initiatives with festivals and holiday homecomings, you can effectively engage local talent, ex-pats and skilled individuals interested in relocating to your city or any one of its surrounding towns or suburbs.

In Acadiana, unique cultural attractions and annual events are utilized to attract and retain talent. Jerry Vascocu, Acadiana Market President of IBERIABANK, vouches for the region’s efficiency at drawing in skilled professionals, stating, “Acadiana is an awesome place to live. Our expanding and diversifying economic base is a result of our sharing Louisiana’s gifts with others from other parts of the country. It's a joy to watch new friends fall in love with Acadiana.”

Finding Success

Enterprising companies have set their roots deep in the Acadiana area, and the result is thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities:

  • • Silicon Valley-based Enquero placed its first high-performance Agile Delivery Center here, its reasons “cultural fit, availability of relevant talent and infrastructure readiness.” The result will be 350 direct jobs.

  • • Perficient determined that Lafayette was the perfect place for its software development center. Dedicated in April, the center will supply 245 direct jobs.

Acadiana’s welcoming atmosphere and willingness to commit to long-term partnership make all the difference. In March, CGI announced that it had filled more than 230 high-quality positions but still had 56 more with salaries exceeding $50,000.

CGI Federal Vice President Will LaBar describes the company’s experience in Lafayette in terms of the value of public-private collaboration and cooperation. One Acadiana’s strategy is simple: Connect employers with the talent pipeline they need, and people will want to come here.

 

 

 

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