Over 80 people, including young professionals, workforce development, community and business leaders participated in a half day conference, “How to Engage and Retain the Next Generation of Young Professionals,” presented by Arcata Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) and the California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED).
The event addressed the gap between the stories young professionals often hear, which is that to be successful they need to leave the area, with industry leaders who say they can’t find employees to fill their jobs. In that gap, there are expectation gaps on both sides of the issue. This conference brought everybody in the same room to listen as a way to begin a conversation about this issue.
“AEDC was given the opportunity and support from CALED to present a workshop on any economic development issue important to our community. In conversations, workforce development keeps coming up,” said Susan Seaman, Program Director for AEDC. “We learned that we’re not alone. Other rural communities and even urban areas, are struggling with the same issue. Humboldt will just have to use our entrepreneurial mindset to think of creative ways to address it.”
Gurbax Sahota, the CEO of CALED, spoke about connecting economic and workforce development to create opportunities in our community. CALED is an association that supports its members to build strong communities by building strong economies.
Randy Weaver, a labor market consultant for the Employment Development Department, talked about the jobs that are most needed and growing in the areas. Those target industries are tied to 68% of the jobs in the region with an average annual wage of over $9,000 than those in non-target industries. Those industries include diversified health care, niche manufacturing, specialty agriculture food and beverage, management and innovation and building and construction.
Loren Collins, from the Humboldt State University Career Center, spoke about what job seekers and employers could do to close that gap. A notable suggestion to both sides was “make yourself known.” Employers no longer have the luxury of having dozens of potential candidates for every job. Competition for good employees is getting tighter, and employers need to make more efforts to reach out to their ideal candidates.
Michael Kraft, of Sequoia Personnel hosted a panel with young professionals and employers and discussed issues that are important to both sides, including cost of living with student loans versus the tight margins for a lot of local businesses. Panelists included Tom Rector, of Thomas Home Center; Mandy Marquez of US Bank; Loren Collins, HSU Career Center; Jamie Carroll a young professional who works with Humboldt Independent Practice Association; and Klark Swan, a young professional and self-employed event planner.
The event ended with a mixer, hosted by Next Gen Eureka, giving participants a chance to talk about the ideas they heard throughout the day.
If you’re interested in learning more, or in getting involved in this conversation, please contact Susan Seaman at (707) 798-6132.