This case study, written by FSG, is about Partners for a Competitive Workforce, a collective impact initiative in Cincinnati, Ohio, focused on ensuring that employers have the talent they need to compete, and people have the skills they need to get good jobs and advance in their careers. This case study provides collective impact backbone organizations, funders, and partners with an overview of the initiative and key lessons learned.

This case study accompanies a video interview with Ross Meyer, the former executive director of Partners for a Competitive Workforce.

Key Facts
Initiative / backbone name: Partners for a Competitive Workforce
Year initiative formed: 2011
Mission: Employers have the talent they need to compete, and people have the skills they need to get good jobs and advance in their careers
Geography: Tri-state area of Northern Kentucky, Indiana, and Cincinnati
Impact area(s): Employment / Workforce Development

Summary
Partners for a Competitive Workforce (PCW) supports a collective impact initiative that marries workforce development with employer demand – accelerating the ability of each to solve their own challenges and those of the region.

Problem
The skills gap in the tri-state area of Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Indiana was growing. Even with high unemployment, employers could not find the talent that they needed to fill critical positions. Partners for a Competitive Workforce reported that in 2010:1

  • 50% of local businesses expected to struggle to fill positions with qualified workers.2 • In October 2011, the regional unemployment rate was 8.6%.3
  • 50% of the regional workforce lacked education beyond high school and lacked both the technical skills and professional skills (e.g., professionalism, work ethic) to qualify for open positions.


If the skills gap was eliminated nationwide, the unemployment rate would decrease by 2-3%, but all projections showed that the problem was getting worse. The US Chamber estimated that by 2018, seven million jobs will go unfilled nationwide due to the skills gap.

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