SOMERVILLE’S TALENT EQUITY PLAYBOOK OUTLINES WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR RESIDENTS

First-of-its-kind report focuses on actionable, measurable goals around strategies for coordinating education and training services, positioning Somerville as a national leader in employee engagement practices, preparing the city for future employment and economic scenarios, and more

SOMERVILLE –  The City of Somerville recently released a first-of-its-kind local workforce development strategic plan, the Talent Equity Playbook. The report highlights Somerville’s current and future jobs environment and labor market, workforce development resources, community priorities, actionable workforce development strategies, and ways to measure progress.

“SomerVision calls for the creation of 30,000 new jobs in Somerville by 2030 – and the data shows we’re making progress toward that goal,” said Mayor Joseph Curtatone. “While our progress toward job creation is vitally important, we also know it takes more than simply creating new jobs to provide residents with true economic opportunity. We must also understand the challenge the city’s jobseekers face and make sure we give them the tools necessary to seize employment opportunities. The Talent Equity Playbook provides us with information and strategies necessary to help ensure our residents are ready to succeed in the jobs of the future.”

Key takeaways from the Playbook regarding Somerville’s current and future labor market include:

·       The Somerville labor market continues to see high participation and low unemployment. At the end of 2016, Somerville’s unemployment rate was 2.4 percent while 75 percent of the city’s working age population is employed or actively looking for work.

·       Disproportionate shares of Somerville’s economically vulnerable workers have low educational attainment and/or are linguistic minorities. Among those who are unemployed, 43 percent have no form of postsecondary credential or degree.

·       Regional connectivity remains important with 90 percent of the city’s workers commuting to jobs with businesses outside of Somerville.

·       From 2009 to 2016, 5,000 new jobs were created in Somerville. There are now approximately 2,000 business that employ 26,700 workers.

·       Of the nearly 9,000 new jobs anticipated to be created in Somerville over the next ten years, 1,839 of them are expected to be in the computer and mathematics field.

Honoring the City’s commitment to community engagement, the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development Economic Development Division – along with their team of consultants from Mt. Auburn Associates and FutureWorks – gathered community input when developing the Playbook. Resident job seekers, employers, and training service providers were able to participate in the process through a community-led steering committee, multilingual resident survey, interviews, focus groups, and meetings.

Some of the priorities identified by the community participants include:

The most common challenge survey respondents reported was finding a quality job. Nearly 80% of surveyed residents agreed that job opportunities would improve if the City prioritized support to employers that offer employees quality jobs. Additional priorities include:

·       Leveraging existing education and training resources in the city and region and, where appropriate, finding ways to strengthen, fill gaps, and scale solutions.

·       Building career literacy in residents by increasing the understanding of what jobs are in the labor market now, how employers are hiring, and what the future of the work looks like.

·       Finding ways to better support and advance youth and adult residents who are English Language Learners, those with low educational attainment, and those who are financially insecure or currently working a low-wage job.

The strategies for increasing equitable economic opportunity for residents include:

·       Building a coordinated system of education and training services that ensures Somerville youth and adults achieve their career goals, with a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of residents who are English Language Learners, those with low educational attainment, and/or those who are financially insecure.

·       Positioning Somerville as a national leader in employee engagement practices.

·       Building a full suite of experiential learning opportunities for Somerville youth and adults.

·       Supporting city education and training partners; integrate “skill resilience” into career preparation.

In the coming year OSPCD will move to implement these strategies through the following initiatives:

·       Strengthening and growing the many digital literacy programs offered by the City and partner non-profits such as FabVille, the City’s public fabrication laboratory.

·       Continuing the employee-nominated ‘Best Place to Work’ awards to celebrate businesses who engage and empower their employees.

·       Launching the Job Creation and Retention Trust fund and working with stakeholders in the business and workforce development communities to manage jobs linkage funding effectively.

To review the Talent Equity Playbook in its entirety, please visit www.somervillema.gov/content/somerville-talent-equity-playbook .

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